If you have children, chances are you’ve wondered if you are doing everything you should to protect your child’s teeth from bacteria and decay. You may have questions about when your child should first visit a dentist, when the right time is to begin brushing and flossing, and if there is anything else you can do to prevent tooth decay and cavities.
When habits are formed early, it is often easier to maintain those habits as we get older. As parents, it is important to begin thinking about oral health before your child’s first birthday, as many children develop cavities well before they turn five years old. Understanding how children get cavities and what you can do to prevent tooth decay can set your child up for better oral health as they grow older.
Early Stages of Dental Care
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, your child should visit a dentist around their first birthday, or when teeth first begin to appear. Home care can begin even earlier to reduce bacteria growth and to promote healthy gums.
Before your child has teeth, you can use a soft washcloth to wipe their gums after feeding to combat bacteria. After teeth begin to arrive, you should begin brushing using an infant toothbrush and a small amount of toothpaste. You should not use fluoridated toothpaste until your child is able to spit properly, usually at about age 2 or 3.
When Can My Child Brush Their Own Teeth?
Most children can begin brushing their own teeth with adult supervision when they are 2 or 3 years old. Once your child can spit properly, experiment with allowing them to do the brushing. Do not begin using fluoridated toothpaste until they learn to spit. Encourage healthy habits by brushing with your child, providing instruction and encouragement.
It may be a struggle to get some kids to brush twice a day. Seek ways to make brushing a fun, rewarding experience. Award gold stars, offer rewards or use music to make brushing more fun. You should supervise brushing until your child is older, and possibly perform a final brush until they get better about brushing all the surfaces of their teeth.
Flossing should begin whenever two teeth are touching. Brushing rarely gets all the food stuck between the teeth, especially the ones in the back of the mouth. Teach your child how to floss, or use special flossers or floss picks safe for use by kids. Flossing should be done daily.
Dental Sealants and Fluoride Usage
Dental sealants are often recommended for children, as sealants provide a barrier between your kids’ teeth and cavity causing bacteria. They are generally applied to teeth in the back of the mouth where most chewing takes place. The thin resin coating protects the teeth and allows them to get stronger as your child grows older.
Fluoride treatments can also be applied at the dentist to help teeth become stronger. Most municipal water supplies are treated with fluoride, and most toothpaste will contain a small amount of fluoride. Your dentist will be able to recommend additional fluoride supplements if necessary.
Establish Healthy Habits for Oral Health
It is important to encourage healthy habits early in life, as your child will continue these habits throughout life. Teach your child to brush and floss regularly, and work with your dentist to identify any other steps that may be necessary to promote healthy teeth and gums.
Visit the dentist regularly to check for early signs of tooth decay and to have sealants and fluoride treatments applied. Talk to your child’s dentist about any concerns or questions you may have about their oral health and dental care. More
Professional tooth-whitening can totally change the appearance of your smile, making it look healthier and decades younger. Tooth-whitening is one of the most popular and highly sought after cosmetic dental treatments – a treatment that can revolutionize your smile and your self-confidence. Let’s take a look at some of the ins and outs of tooth-whitening.
It’s recommended that you have your teeth professionally cleaned before teeth whitening to ensure that you get the best possible results. Dental plaque and tartar don’t respond to bleaching. Whitening without removing plaque and tartar will leave you with a smile that is discolored and unhealthy. You’ll also want a thorough check-up at the time of treatment to determine the exact reason your teeth aren’t a healthy white color. If the problem is due to tooth decay, poor oral hygiene or even gum disease, your dentist will first recommend treatment before proceeding with any cosmetic teeth whitening. In most cases the cause behind tooth discoloration and staining is prolonged exposure to dark, tannin-rich foods and beverages, like coffee, tea and wine
In-Office vs. At-Home
When whitening your teeth, you’ve got two options: in-office-based teeth bleaching, or at-home care. There are pros and cons to each option. Before you try at-home tooth-bleaching kits, talk to your dentist. Not everyone will see good results. Tooth-whitening done by your dentist can get teeth brighter faster. The most dramatic results are generally three to eight shades brighter.
At-home systems contain from 3% to 20% peroxide (carbamide or hydrogen peroxides), while in-office systems contain from 15% to 43% peroxide. Generally, the longer you keep a stronger solution on your teeth, the whiter your teeth become. But you will want to be careful. The higher the percentage of peroxide in the whitening solution, the shorter it should be applied to the teeth. Keeping the gel on longer will dehydrate the tooth and increase tooth sensitivity.
Tooth bleaching can make teeth temporarily sensitive and is sometimes uncomfortable for people who already have sensitive teeth. When used incorrectly, home kits can also lead to burned, even temporarily bleached gums.
Tooth-whitening works best for people with yellow teeth and is less effective for people with brown teeth. If your teeth are gray or purple, tooth bleaching probably won’t work at all. Bleaching will not whiten porcelain crowns or composite tooth-colored bondings.
Talk to your dentist before you use an over-the-counter tooth whitening kit, to be sure tooth-whitening is worth your time and money. The staff at Dennis Hatch, DDS is happy to answer your questions concerning teeth whitening in Blackfoot.
Tooth decay is incredibly common, but largely preventable through good oral hygiene. Changes to diet, regular visits to your dentist, and brushing and flossing regularly can prevent tooth decay and cavities. But what causes tooth decay to begin with, and what changes may be necessary to prevent further decay?
What is Tooth Decay?
Our teeth are made up of minerals, and tooth decay occurs when plaque builds up and acids in our saliva attack the hard surfaces of our teeth, resulting in mineral loss. The foods we eat and beverages we consume largely affects the acid levels in our mouth, as does the time of day we are consuming these items.
The acid is produced by a reaction between the sugars we consume and bacteria in our mouths from plaque. Sugary foods and those with a lot of carbohydrates can cause tooth decay, as can foods that tend to stick in our teeth. Limit your intake of foods or beverages with a lot of sugar, and avoid eating these types of snacks in-between meals. Over time, the acid produced by the bacteria reduces the strength of the enamel and can result in tooth decay or a cavity.
Does My Overall Health Affect Tooth Decay?
Each person is distinctively different and factors such as existing medical conditions, medications, family history and oral health history can all impact your risk of tooth decay and cavities. Talk with your dentist about your medical history and discuss ways to prevent additional tooth decay.
It is important to point out that regardless of your family history or your additional risk factors, tooth decay is preventable with the appropriate care. Flouride treatments and dental sealants both provide a barrier of protection against acids and bacteria causing tooth decay. Those with a family history or personal history may need to be extra diligent to effectively combat tooth decay.
Oral Hygiene Habits to Prevent Tooth Decay
Good oral hygiene can help prevent tooth decay. Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Brushing helps control plaque, and reduces the bad bacteria in your mouth. You should also clean in between teeth using floss or a type of interdental cleaner daily to remove plaque and any food that may be stuck between your teeth. You may also use a fluoride rinse after brushing.
See your dentist regularly for cleanings and exams. If you have problems with tooth decay, you may want to discuss fluoride treatments or dental sealants with your dentist.
Just as important as good oral hygiene, eating a nutritious and well-balanced diet can play a huge rule in preventing tooth decay. Avoid snacking on sugary or sticky foods, as these can promote the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Some foods containing carbohydrates like breads and cereals may not seem harmful, but they typically contain sugars and also promote acidity. Eating these items with other food items as part of a meal can counter the acidic reaction and lessen the potential damage.
Reducing Tooth Decay Through Daily Practices
It is possible to reduce tooth decay and to prevent cavities by making small changes in our daily routines. Make brushing and flossing a priority everyday. Avoid drinking sodas or sweetened beverages, and swap out sugary snacks for more healthy options.
If you have problems with tooth decay, your dentist can be your best resource for identifying things you can do to lower your risk of developing cavities. Talk to your dentist about your family history, and share any concerns you may have about tooth decay, plaque and cavities. If you are looking for a dentist in the Blackfoot. Call Dr. Dennis Hatch to schedule an appointment in Blackfoot. More