Make sure your children brush for TWO minutes, TWO times a day
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that an adult help their child brush the child’s teeth until they are 10 years old or able to tie their shoes without assistance.
Prevention is an essential part of pediatric dentistry. Mt. Airy Children’s Dental Associates provides you and your children with proven solutions to prevent tooth decay and loss.
Good Diet = Healthy Teeth
Healthful eating habits lead to healthy teeth. Like the rest of the body, the teeth, bones, and soft tissues of the mouth need a well-balanced diet. Children should eat a variety of foods from the five major food groups. Many snacks that children eat can lead to cavity formation. It is important to note that just because food is labeled as “organic” does not mean it is low in sugar.
The more frequently a child snacks, the greater the chance of tooth decay. How long food remains in the mouth also plays a role. For example, hard candy and breath mints stay in the mouth for a long time, which causes longer acid attacks on tooth enamel. If your child must snack, choose nutritious foods such as vegetables, low-fat yogurt, and low-fat cheese, which are more healthful for children’s teeth.
How Do I Prevent Cavities?
Good oral hygiene removes bacteria and the leftover food particles that combine to create cavities. For infants, use a wet gauze or clean washcloth to wipe the plaque from teeth and gums. Avoid putting your child to bed with a bottle filled with anything other than water. See “Early Dental Caries” for more information.
For older children, brush their teeth at least twice a day. Flossing where the teeth touch is as important as brushing. Getting into the habit of flossing first helps children remember to floss daily. Also, watch the number of snacks containing sugar you give your children.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends visits to the pediatric dentist every six months, beginning on your child’s first birthday. Routine visits will start your child on a lifetime of good dental health.
Your pediatric dentist may also recommend protective sealants or home fluoride treatments for your child. Sealants can be applied to your child’s molars to prevent decay on hard-to-clean surfaces.
Seal Out Decay
AA sealant is a protective coating that is applied to the chewing surfaces (grooves) of the back teeth (premolars and molars), where four out of five cavities in children are found. This sealant acts as a barrier to food, plaque, and acid, thus protecting the decay-prone areas of the teeth.
Fluoride is an element that has been shown to be beneficial to teeth. However, too little or too much fluoride can be detrimental to the teeth. Little or no fluoride will not strengthen the teeth to help them resist cavities. Excessive fluoride ingestion by preschool-aged children can lead to dental fluorosis, which is a chalky white to even brown discoloration of the permanent teeth.
Many children often get more fluoride than their parents realize. Being aware of a child’s potential sources of fluoride can help parents prevent the possibility of dental fluorosis.
Some of these sources are:
- Too much fluoridated toothpaste at an early age.
- The inappropriate use of fluoride supplements.
- Hidden sources of fluoride in the child’s diet.
Two and three-year-olds may not be able to expectorate (spit out) fluoride-containing toothpaste when brushing. As a result, these youngsters may ingest an excessive amount of fluoride during tooth brushing. Toothpaste ingestion during this critical period of permanent tooth development is the greatest risk factor in the development of fluorosis.
Excessive and inappropriate intake of fluoride supplements may also contribute to fluorosis. Fluoride drops and tablets, as well as fluoride-fortified vitamins, should not be given to infants younger than six months of age. After that time, fluoride supplements should only be given to children after all of the sources of ingested fluoride have been accounted for and upon the recommendation of your pediatrician or pediatric dentist.
Certain foods contain high levels of fluoride, especially powdered concentrate infant formula, soy-based infant formula, infant dry cereals, creamed spinach, and infant chicken products. Please read the label or contact the manufacturer. Some beverages also contain high levels of fluoride, especially decaffeinated teas, white grape juices, and juice drinks manufactured in fluoridated cities.
Parents can take the following steps to decrease the risk of fluorosis in their children’s teeth:
- Use baby tooth cleanser on the toothbrush of a very young child.
- Place only a pea-sized drop of children’s toothpaste on the brush when brushing.
- Account for all of the sources of ingested fluoride before requesting fluoride supplements from your child’s physician or pediatric dentist.
- Avoid giving any fluoride-containing supplements to infants until they are at least 6 months old.
- Obtain fluoride level test results for your drinking water before giving fluoride supplements to your child (check with local water utilities).
When a child begins to participate in recreational activities and organized sports, injuries can occur. A properly fitted mouth guard, or mouth protector, is an important piece of athletic gear that can help protect your child’s smile and should be used during any activity that could result in a blow to the face or mouth.
Mouth guards help prevent broken teeth and injuries to the lips, tongue, face, or jaw. A properly fitted mouth guard will stay in place while your child is wearing it, making it easy for them to talk and breathe. Ask your pediatric dentist about custom and store-bought mouth protectors.
Xylitol – Reducing Cavities
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recognizes the benefits of xylitol on the oral health of infants, children, adolescents, and persons with special health care needs.
The use of XYLITOL GUM by mothers (2-3 times per day) starting three months after delivery and until the child is two years old has proven to reduce cavities up to 70% by the time the child is five years old.
Studies using xylitol as either a sugar substitute or a small dietary addition have demonstrated a dramatic reduction in new tooth decay, along with some reversal of existing dental caries. Xylitol provides additional protection that enhances all existing prevention methods. This xylitol effect is long-lasting and possibly permanent. Low decay rates persist even years after the trials have been completed.
Xylitol is widely distributed throughout nature in small amounts. Some of the best sources are fruits, berries, mushrooms, lettuce, hardwoods, and corn cobs. One cup of raspberries contains less than one gram of xylitol.
Studies suggest xylitol intake that consistently produces positive results that range from 4-20 grams per day, divided into 3-7 consumption periods. Higher results did not result in greater reduction and may lead to diminishing results. Similarly, a consumption frequency of fewer than three times per day showed no effect.
To find gum or other products containing xylitol, try visiting your local health food store or search the Internet to find products containing 100% xylitol.
Beware of Sports Drinks
Due to the high sugar content and acids in sports drinks, they have erosive potential and the ability to dissolve even fluoride-rich enamel, which can lead to cavities.
To minimize dental problems, children should avoid sports drinks and hydrate with water before, during, and after sports. Be sure to talk to your pediatric dentist before using sports drinks.
If sports drinks are consumed:
- reduce the frequency and contact time
- swallow immediately, and do not swish them around the mouth
- neutralize the effect of sports drinks by alternating sips of water with the drink
- rinse mouthguards only in water
- seek out dentally friendly sports drinks
Preventative Care and Oral Health FAQs
Will fluorosis damage teeth?
Fluorosis can create white spots on the teeth but will not damage the teeth. While most cases of fluorosis are mild and will fade over time, some children may require cosmetic treatment if they have fluorosis in their parent teeth as they emerge.
What should you avoid after dental sealants?
Directly after your child receives dental sealants, ensure they don’t eat hard, chewy, or sticky foods. These foods can possibly remove the sealants. There are no other restrictions for dental sealants. A good oral hygiene routine and regular dental visits will ensure your child has cavity-free teeth.
What sports require mouthguards?
Any sport with contact between players requires the players to wear mouthguards. Common contact sports include football, basketball, hockey, and lacrosse.
Are energy drinks bad for your oral health?
Yes, energy drinks are high in sugar and acids. Acids wear down the tooth enamel over time, and sugar can attract harmful bacteria that damage the teeth and gums. Drinking too many energy drinks and not caring for your oral health can increase your risk of decay and tooth damage.
Can I get a mouthguard if I have braces?
Yes, you can get a sports mouthguard if you or your child has braces. We can custom-make sports mouthguards to ensure that they cover and protect the teeth and braces. Wearing a sports mouthguard will prevent brackets, wires, and tooth damage.
Why do mouthguards only cover the top teeth?
Sports mouthguards only cover the top teeth because they typically stick out more than the bottom teeth. This means that the upper teeth are more prone to damage.