The best way to prevent excessive plaque buildup is to schedule a preventative care dental cleanings visit every six months. Plaque that is left untreated can lead to unhealthy gums and tooth decay. The gentle and professional dental cleanings performed at Growing Smiles will help your child preserve their teeth and gums. If you have not scheduled your child’s next preventative care appointment, contact our Grand Rapids pediatric dental office today.
Oral Hygiene Instructions
Children’s hands and mouths are different than adults. They need to use toothbrushes designed for children with bigger handles and soft, rounded bristles for gentle cleaning. Change to a new brush about every three months or earlier if the bristles become frayed.
For infants, wipe the teeth gently with moist gauze or a clean soft cloth. As babies grow, use a child’s toothbrush with a smear of toothpaste. When your child can spit — between 2 and 5 years old — you can use a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste to clean the teeth. Until your child can tie his shoes, he will need help with brushing his teeth. Even after that you will need to check for areas that may have been missed. Dr. Meggan can recommend methods to inspect your child’s mouth and motivate the young child toward good brushing habits. These practices, along with regular scheduled dental cleanings, will help promote good overall oral health.
Below are several helpful tips for brushing your child’s teeth properly:
- Brush the inside and outside surfaces of each tooth, top and bottom.
- Hold the brush flat on top of the teeth and brush the chewing surfaces
- Gently brush the tongue to remove debris
- Floss between teeth daily
- Create a tooth brushing routine and stick to the same routine each day
What is a cavity?
A cavity is when the enamel of the tooth breaks down due to bacteria left on the teeth. The bacteria thrive on foods and drinks containing carbohydrates. The bacteria release acids when exposed to these sugars and starches. If not removed daily, the acids destroy the enamel and a cavity forms. At Growing Smiles, we call these “sugar bugs” for small children who may not understand fully how cavities form. Dr. Meggan and her team will tell your child the story about sugar bugs and why it is necessary to clean them off the teeth.
How do I prevent a cavity?
Four things are needed to cause tooth decay:
A Tooth, bacteria, sugars and starches, and time.
If any one of these things is eliminated, a cavity will not form. We all have bacteria or “sugar bugs” present in our mouths. They cannot be totally eliminated, but they can be reduced by daily flossing and proper brushing. Sugars and starches should be limited, especially sticky ones. It is not the amount of sugars and starches consumed, but the frequency, so even watered-down sugary beverages can cause cavities.
Children who snack and “graze” have a much higher incidence of decay than children who eat 3 meals a day with limited snacks. Watch for hidden sugars. The bacteria cannot tell the difference between sugar from juice or from soda or from crackers or fruit. Some snacks (like cheese and nuts) do not contribute to cavities.
Why is flossing important?
Cavities can be prevented and it is easy! With daily brushing, flossing (don’t miss a day!) and proper nutrition your child will be on his way to a cavity free life. Children under age 8 do not have the fine motor skills to do a thorough cleaning. They will need parental help to keep the gum line areas clean on both the insides and the outsides of the teeth. They also will need help with flossing. Flossing cleans the areas of teeth that touch, where a toothbrush cannot reach. It is important that the children see their parents brush and floss regularly. You can set a good example regarding the importance of maintaining a healthy smile.