Expert advice from the team at Elite Dental Studio.
New parents often have questions regarding the care and management of their children’s teeth. When should you start brushing? What kind of toothpaste is best? When should you go to the dentist? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you to keep your kids' teeth healthy and cavity-free.
When should you start brushing?
It is generally agreed that you should clean your child's teeth as soon as the first one appears. To begin with just use a flannel but as more teeth come through it is recommend you move to a soft children's brush.
What kind of toothpaste is best?
Too much fluoride can cause specific problems for children and therefore your choice of toothpaste is important. Most brands of kids' toothpaste contain fluoride so although they come in different flavors and feature popular characters which make them appear innocuous; you should be aware that it isn’t safe for children to swallow.
It is recommended that when using fluoride toothpaste, you only use a small, pea-size amount so that if your child does swallow it, he/she is unlikely to be in any danger. You should also encourage your child to spit out the toothpaste from as early an age as possible.
You may prefer to use non-fluoridated toothpaste until your child learns to spit it out.
When should you go to the dentist?
The timing of the first visit to our dental practice is a little controversial. The British Dental Association states that children should see a dentist when they get their first tooth and not later than one year of age. However, an early visit to our practice is a good way to instigate good oral hygiene practices from an early age. We cover the drawbacks of night-time bottles and cups of formula or juice; we discuss proper tooth brushing techniques, and we’ll offer dietary advice that promotes good dental health. We would also suggest you bring your child with you when you attend for a checkup because it will help him/her to become accustomed to visiting the dentist and will result in a more relaxed feeling in the future.
What about flossing?
Flossing is an important part of good dental hygiene. You can usually begin flossing when a child reaches three to four years of age but in all likelihood, they won't be able to floss on their own until they are eight to ten years.
In addition to teaching your children the importance of regular brushing and flossing, routine visits to the dentist and a healthy diet, it is important that you set a good example by also practicing good dental hygiene. If you do not brush and floss each day or regularly see a dentist, then it is unlikely that your children will either.
Why might i be susceptible?
Periodontal disease is the Number One cause of tooth loss amongst adults. This is because a certain number of people (15-20%) have immune systems that overreact to the bad bacteria in their mouths. When this overreaction occurs, the immune system attacks and breaks down the bone and tissue that surround the tooth. This destruction is not predictable and can occur sporadically. None of us knows if we are part of this 15-20% because we can’t usually feel or notice the onset of gum and bone (periodontal) disease. Both adults and children should be routinely checked for gum disease.
keeping your gums in shape
Keep in mind that healthy gums DON’T BLEED. You are the key player on the hygiene team. If you don’t do the essential daily brushing and flossing, the rest of your dental team (the dentist and hygienist) is playing short-handed. And sometimes with everyone fighting the good fight, stubborn plaque and bacteria will require some new maintenance techniques for battling gum infection.
Gum disease is not curable, but it is treatable, and in most cases, controllable.
Are you living at high risk for gum disease?
Smoking: Numerous studies have shown that smokers have more gum disease. Smokers have increased levels of tartar in the mouth, and experience more tissue irritation, which makes their gums more susceptible to disease. Smokers have more bone loss and heal less quickly than non-smokers.
Stress: When our immune system is stressed it is difficult to fight off the bacteria that cause gum infections.
Dental neglect: Avoiding the dentist is a lifestyle choice that puts you at risk of contracting diseases of the mouth, teeth and gums.
Floss or die! Your hygienist or dentist works to prevent infection in your mouth from entering the bloodstream and reaching vital organs.
Heart disease: Gum inflammation products and bacteria in gum disease can cause heart disease, and in some cases, double the risk of a fatal heart attack. In addition, bacteria from your mouth may combine with blood-clotting cells called platelets, forming heart-stopping blood clots.
Stroke: New studies show that 70% of the fatty deposits of stroke sufferers contain bacteria, of which 40% comes from the mouth.
Diabetics: This group of people are more likely to have gum disease than most people and gum disease makes it more difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugar.
Premature birth: Pregnant women who have periodontal disease may be as much as seven times more likely to have a baby born early. Some research suggests that gum disease may increase the level of hormones that induce labour.
As a result of improved oral hygiene and fluoride, more people are keeping their own teeth into old age but in order to continue to maintain healthy teeth and gums, a regime of brushing and rinsing twice a day should be combined with interdental brushing – cleaning between the teeth.
The major cause of tooth decay and gum disease is plaque. The formation of plaque is continuous and its growth cannot be stopped. Whilst brushing controls plaque formation around the surfaces of your teeth, it does not reach between your teeth and that’s why interdental brushing once a day is so crucial.
Cleaning between your teeth is made possible by the use of the following:
Single tuft toothbrushes
Rubber tip stimulators
Consult your dentist and hygienist to learn more about the right method of interdental brushing for you.
Despite its fairly recent exposure, tongue cleaning is not new; it was practised by people in ancient Egypt, China and India.
A healthy tongue should be slightly moist, smooth, and pinkish in colour, but a white or yellow tongue is a strong indication of a breath problem. Although not common practice, cleaning your tongue on a regular basis can be the single most beneficial treatment for bad breath.
While cleaning your tongue with a brush can be satisfactory, many people find that scraping their tongue with a specially designed tongue scraper is more effective against the tendency to gag.To clean your tongue, start as far back as possible and make brush strokes outward toward the front of your mouth.
You need to apply some pressure but not enough to cause irritation to your tongue. Once the surface debris from your tongue has been removed, apply a small bead of toothpaste to the head of your tongue cleaner and gently coat the surface of your tongue (as far back as possible without gagging). Ideally, leave the toothpaste on the surface of your tongue while you brush your teeth normally and then rinse your mouth.
For more information of tongue-cleaning tools and techniques, consult your dentist or hygienist.