February is Children’s Dental Health Month! Because we want the kids of St. Louis to have the brightest, happiest smiles ever, we thought we’d go over the four important aspects of pediatric dental care.
Creating good dental habits for your children should start as soon as they wake up. Before breakfast, you should brush your teeth with your kiddos. When children learning good habits, modeling the behavior can be beneficial. Let them watch you, and then work with them on their skills.
To start with, make sure you’re using a soft bristle toothbrush. If your child can spit their toothpaste in the sink, use a pea sized amount of toothpaste. If you find they’re swallowing their toothpaste, use a very small amount that is about the size of a grain of rice.
It’s a good idea to establish a consistent brushing pattern. This will ensure that all areas of the mouth are taken care of. Start at the same place, on the same side, and follow the same order when teaching your kids how to brush. For example, start on the left side with your bottom molars. Work your way around to the front bottom teeth, then the right bottom teeth. Be sure you’re paying attention to the back AND front of teeth surfaces. You’ll also want to make sure that they/you are paying attention to the gumline.
As an incentive, you can display our teeth brushing chart in your bathroom!
Let them put a sticker in each spot for morning and night when teeth are brushed, then bring it into our office and let them pick out a prize.
Another way to bring some fun to tooth brushing is to play some music! We’ve been posting two minute tooth brushing songs on our social media to help make your time at the sink a little more lively.
Flossing is important because it removes plaque and food that is between teeth. Brushing can only go so far, and flossing does the rest of the job. It’s not only good for your mouth, but helps prevent bad breath, which makes morning cuddles with your kiddos much more enjoyable. Even if your kids’ teeth aren’t touching, you can still work on forming the habit from a young age.
Make sure there’s fluoride in your toothpaste. In fact, among the many shared ingredients between the two toothpastes we compared, the most important is fluoride. Fluoride helps prevent painful cavities and decay, and is so important for the health of your kids’ teeth. Most kids who have fluoride in their drinking water, and use a toothpaste that contains fluoride are getting a sufficient amount to prevent issues. You can see if it’s in your drinking water here;
In the past, some have said that fluoride toothpaste should only be used for kids old enough to know how to spit into the sink. However, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, West County Pediatric Dentistry, and Dr. Shahnaz Ahmed recommend fluoride toothpaste be used from the start. The amount they recommend using varies depending on age. A tiny amount, the size of a grain of rice, should be used for kiddos two and under. This amount is safe if ingested. However, you should encourage your child to lean forward so that their spit and toothpaste fall out of their mouth. Once they get to the age of two, it’s easier to tell them to spit their toothpaste out and they can have a pea sized amount of toothpaste. Dr. Ahmed may recommend a fluoride application during your child’s cleaning to give their teeth an extra boost of protection.
In addition to brushing and flossing twice a day, you can also take extra steps to protecting your kids’ teeth. The molar teeth are most susceptible to cavities for two reason. First, their chewing surfaces has more pits and fissures than the rest of the teeth. This can make it more difficult for toothbrush bristles to clean the chewing surface. Second, the majority of chewing is done with your molars, increasing the chances of food and bacteria getting stuck and causing decay. To protect your children’s permanent molars, West County Pediatric Dentistry in St. Louis, MO can apply sealant when they come in; usually around 6 years old and 12 years old.
A report published in July, 2017 by the Cochrane Collaboration, a group that studies and analyzes health information, found that the prevalence of cavities was reduced by 51% in children whose teeth were treated with sealant.