6 things to know to keep your kids’ teeth healthy (via @Salem_Statesman)

29 Jan

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As a pediatric dentist, I talk to parents daily about ways to get kids to brush their teeth. Toddlers in particular can be so resistant that frustrated moms and dads are tempted to give up altogether. It’s not uncommon for them to ask, “Do baby teeth really matter anyway?”

Even though they fall out, they do matter. Children with decay in their baby teeth are more likely to develop cavities in their permanent teeth, and baby teeth hold the space needed for the incoming adult tooth. Premature loss of baby teeth can result in crooked teeth or even the inability of adult teeth to come in.

One surprising statistic is that early childhood cavities and tooth decay are the No. 1 chronic childhood illness, more common than asthma. And untreated dental pain and disease affect a child’s overall well-being. It can lead to missed school days, impact a child’s ability to eat and sleep, and lower their self-esteem.

But there’s good news: It’s a problem that can be prevented by following a few parent- and child-friendly tips:

1 Start early. Kids should have their first dental visit within six months of when their first tooth breaks through the gums, or by age 1, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Kids can see either a general dentist or a pediatric dentist. Pediatric dentists receive special training to understand kids’ needs.

The first appointment often takes place in the comfort of the parent’s lap, not in the dental chair. It’s an opportunity to provide guidance for the parent and to talk about oral hygiene, diet, injury prevention and habits such as pacifiers and thumb sucking.

Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. As soon as the first tooth comes in, start brushing your child’s teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush designed for children. Use a smear of fluoride-containing toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice.

2 Make brushing fun. It’s important to brush twice a day for two minutes. Apps like Oral-B’s free Disney Magic Timer app can help turn brushing into a game: oralb.com/stages/disney-timer-app.

Try the “Tell-Show-Do” method with younger kids. Tell them what you’re going to do, demonstrate on yourself or a toy, then do it.

3 Use a fluoride toothpaste. Use a pea-size amount for ages 3 to 6 and a smaller smear for younger kids. Rinsing after brushing should be kept to a minimum or eliminated to maximize the fluoride’s effect. I usually tell parents to make their best effort to have the child spit out the excess toothpaste, but if they don’t, the amount of fluoride is safe to swallow.

4 Get sealants on permanent teeth. Sealants are a thin resin coating that fills in the chewing surfaces of teeth, blocking food particles that could otherwise get trapped and cause cavities.

Sealants are quickly, easily and painlessly applied by dental care professionals. They can last for years.

Sealants work. A child who receives sealants is 72 percent less likely to receive fillings over the next three years.

5 Get fluoride varnishes on baby teeth and permanent teeth. Fluoride varnishes are a concentrated topical fluoride brushed onto teeth. Like sealants, they’re quickly, easily and painlessly applied by dental care professionals. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry cites fluoride as the most effective way to prevent tooth decay.

6 Be mindful of diet implications. Make sure your child has a balanced diet. Limit sugars and starches to protect teeth from decay.

Souce: http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/health/2015/01/23/things-know-keep-kids-teeth-healthy/21552603/

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