While kids across the country are practicing their best manners and dutifully cleaning their rooms in advance of a visit from Santa, parents need to be mindful of a different spectrum of “naughty or nice” behavior for their children, related to proper oral care. Sue Lee lead pediatric dentist at Dentistry for Children in Suwanee, shares oral health tips that can keep kids off the dental naughty list and empower them to have a winning smile for life.
The rule of two
The rule of two requires no math – brush your teeth twice a day, every day, for two minutes, and visit the dentist twice a year. Until it becomes a natural habit, parents should encourage their child to brush their teeth in the morning and at bedtime for two minutes. To make brushing teeth fun, play a two-minute excerpt of your child’s favorite song or give him or her a fun, light-up toothbrush with a timer that lets your child know when two minutes have passed. And remember to take your child to see the dentist every six months for a professional cleaning.
Fluoride is a tooth’s best friend
Fluoride makes tooth enamel stronger, reverses the early stages of acid damage, and is your child’s best defense in the fight against tooth decay. Children ages 7 and older can use fluoride mouthwash as a part of their daily oral-care routine for extra protection. As for toothpaste, make sure your child’s teeth cleaning agent lists fluoride as an active ingredient. Lee also recommends you skip the bottled water and go for the tap.
“Bottled water doesn’t contain fluoride, the ingredient that strengthens teeth and prevents cavities,” Lee said. “So the next time you grab a glass of water for your child, consider getting it straight from the sink or through a filtering system in your refrigerator.”
The best defense is a good offense
Plaque is a soft, sticky film that builds up on teeth and contains millions of bacteria. Starchy or sugary foods fuel the bacteria in plaque, which produce acids that attack tooth enamel. Repeated attacks break down the hard enamel on the surface of teeth, causing cavities. Plaque can also wreak havoc on the gums and bone that support teeth. Fruits, such as apples and pears, and vegetables are fantastic food options for developing healthy teeth, along with water, milk and unsweetened tea. Make sure your child avoids soft drinks, lemonade and other beverages that have added sugar. Give them the nutrients they need to defend against plaque.
Your child’s trips to the dentists are not the only times their mouth should be examined. No one is in a better position to notice changes in their mouth than they are. If your child is old enough to know if their gums feel swollen or their tooth looks discolored, encourage him or her to do weekly mouth exams at home. Have your child stand in front of the bathroom mirror and take a close look at his or her teeth, gums, cheeks and tongue. This will allow your child to be more attuned to any changes and help determine if an appointment with a dentist is needed. For young children, mom or dad can do the home exam.
The guidelines are appropriate for adults, as well. When it comes to oral health, everyone should strive to be on the nice list.
To learn more about Dentistry for Children, visit www.D4C.com or call 678-383-0313.
About Dentistry for Children:
Dentistry for Children is comprised of pediatric dental specialists and general dentists who provide an uncompromising excellence of care to all children from infancy to young adulthood. With 21 offices located across the metro-Atlanta area, Dentistry for Children specializes in the treatment of infants, children, teens, adolescents and those with special needs. To find out more and to locate the office nearest you, visit www.D4C.com or call 678-383-0313. Join them on Facebook for the latest news, updates and promotions: www.Facebook.com/Dentist4Children.