CARE OF YOUR CHILD’S TEETH
Begin brushing as soon as your child’s first tooth erupts. Use a wet washcloth until the back teeth come in. You should not use any toothpaste when you brush your child’s teeth to prevent the need for spitting and allow the parent better visibility. After age 2, a pea size amount of toothpaste can be used by your child to help keep stains down. We always recommend that a least once a day, until age 8-10, the parent brush for the child. The child should brush their own teeth at least once a day on their own to teach independence.
Proper brushing should be done systematically every time you brush for your child. Place the brush at a 45 degree angle to the gumline with a soft bristle brush and scrub in a gentle circular motion. Start at the outer surfaces of the back teeth and work your way around the mouth and repeat for the inside of the teeth. Finish by brushing the tongue to help freshen breath and remove bacteria.
Flossing removes plaque between teeth where the toothbrush doesn’t reach. Remember, if you want your child to floss, you, the parent, need to floss their own teeth daily. The parent is the child’s greatest role model! Dr. Cobb has always felt that is very hard to floss someone else’s teeth. We would rather you do a great job brushing your child’s teeth than do a poor (and hard to do!) job flossing. If you can floss for your child- here are some tips, when flossing someone else, use 18”-24” of floss, wind the floss around your middle fingers, hold the floss lightly between your thumb and forefingers and use a gentle back and forth motion to guide the floss between the teeth. Slide the floss gently around the tooth below the gum and use the floss like a scraper on the tooth to remove the plaque. Repeat the procedure on each tooth.
What is Plaque?
Plaque is an invisible mass of bacteria that adheres to the teeth. The bacteria give off an acid that dissolves the teeth and cause cavities. A disclosing solution (available at many pharmacies and online) can be used to stain plaque so that it can be seen.
What about diet?
Healthy eating habits lead to healthy teeth. Like the rest of the body, the teeth need a well balanced diet. Children should eat a variety of foods from the 5 food groups. Most snacks children eat can lead to cavities. The more frequently a child snacks, the greater the chance of cavities (decay). In fact, it appears that the more frequently food is ingested, the greater the decay risk your child faces. This type of food ingestion is called grazing, for obvious reasons! The children we see with the highest decay rates eat in a grazing pattern and if there is one thing you can do to lessen your child’s decay rate, it is to eliminate a grazing eating pattern.