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Your Child's Teeth and You

May is celebrated as child's month where we focus on the well being of the child. At BrightSmiles Dental Centre we did not want to miss out on the opportunity to shine a light on children’s dental health care.

We would like to offer some tips regarding children’s dental health care an in doing so, we hope to dispel some myths and provide you with some useful information.

1. Start them early:

We strongly recommended that all children have their first dental visit by the age of 1. You may even hear that the first visit should be between 6 months to one year.

“Why so early?” you may ask. We recommend this early first contact so that we can establish that the teeth and jaws are developing as they should. We want to be able to advise you early about all clinical findings.

This is also a great opportunity to establish a relationship with the dentist, dental hygienist and your child. We want to establish this as the start of a great relationship where your child is coming in to the dentist every 6 months for examination and teeth cleaning.

2. The importance of baby teeth:

Now that we have talked a bit about the importance of getting your children to see the dentist, its time to talk about the importance of those little baby teeth.

Parents can sometimes dismiss the importance of baby teeth because they’re not the child’s “real” teeth but despite the fact that they are temporary they are still incredibly important.

Baby teeth serve may purposes; they hold the place for your child’s permanent teeth allowing them to grow in properly. They also allow your child to eat solid food for the first time, letting them learn how to eat and also allowing them to get the nutrition they need to grow.

Your child’s teeth are also vital to speech development because they help in the forming of letters, sounds words as well as pronunciation; assisting them in the process of learning to speak.

3. Caring for your child’s teeth:

You don’t have to wait until your little one starts to grow teeth to begin taking care of their oral health. Even before the first tooth erupts you should be cleaning your baby’s gums with a damp washcloth after feeding, its best to have a dedicated washcloth for this purpose.

As soon as the the first tooth appears you can begin brushing using a baby toothbrush and gently rubbing it back and forth on the surface of the tooth being sure to brush against the gum line. If you use toothpaste, be sure to only use a rice grain sized drop and be sure to use a kiddies toothpaste.

Once your child becomes a toddler you can start brushing their teeth for about a minute but no less than 30 seconds, be sure to do this after breakfast and before they go to bed.

The best way to go about brushing your toddlers teeth is to sit and have them lean their head against your lap and open their mouth, giving you easy access to all their teeth.

You can begin using a gungo pea sized drop of normal fluoride toothpaste once they are 2 or 3 years old, as long as they’re not swallowing the toothpaste in which case you should continue using a fluoride free one. You can also start flossing their teeth at this age once they have two or more teeth touching.

When your child enters preschool you should start brushing your teeth at the same time as your child and give them lots of positive feedback. Once your child is around 7 years old they can start brushing and flossing on their own. A good rule of thumb is: If your child is old enough to tie their own shoes they’re old enough to brush by themselves. Just to be sure they’re doing a good job you should still check their teeth for any food or plaque, especially around the gum line.

4. The importance of diet:

Our diet impacts every aspect of our life, after all, “you are what you eat”. As such, it’s no surprise that our diet can impact our teeth; especially considering how vital our teeth are to the act of eating in the first place.

You have no doubt heard how important it is for your child to have a balanced diet consisting of Carbohydrates, Protein, Calcium, Fruits/Vegetables and finally Fats/Sugars.

But how does a child’s diet affect their oral health? A well balanced diet is vital for teeth to grow properly, equally important is keeping an eye on just what your child is actually eating.

Its no secret that sugar and teeth don’t mix. If your child regularly consumes foods and beverages with sugar, they’re chances of developing cavities skyrocket. Even among sugary drinks, sodas are the absolute worst because they not only contain large amounts of sugar (one bottle of soda can contain 42 grams of sugar which actually converts to 3 tablespoons), but soda’s also contain carbonic acid because they are carbonated beverages.

Carbonic acid is very bad for teeth and can greatly increase tooth decay by breaking down the enamel in our teeth, combine that with the large amounts of sugar in soda and its a recipe for disaster.

5. Regarding fluoride and sealants:

You’ve likely heard people talk about fluoride, as a matter of fact we just mentioned it in the last section, but what exactly is fluoride?

Fluoride is a compound that contains a natural element known as fluorine. Using small amounts of fluoride on a routine basis can help prevent tooth decay, thats why you will find it in almost every brand of toothpaste except for children’s toothpaste.

The reason why there is no fluoride in children’s toothpaste is because children can swallow toothpaste instead of spitting it out and consuming large amounts of fluoride can lead to your child developing a condition known as fluorosis which affects their teeth causing them to develop white specks or streaks. In severe cases it cause the enamel on teeth to turn discolored and pitted.

Luckily fluorosis is reversible with certain dental treatments, but as the saying goes “prevention is better than cure”. So in short, fluoride is great for your child’s dental health, as long as they’re not swallowing it.

Now lets talk about sealants. Sealants are a dental procedure designed to protect the grooves and pits that naturally form in your teeth, especially on the chewing surface of our back teeth.

Because of these grooves and pits its often hard or even impossible for your children to properly clean their back teeth, causing food particles and plaque to get in these grooves and eventually lead to tooth decay.

Sealants are used to fill and seal these grooves and pits preventing food and plaque from getting into them, protecting your child’s teeth from decay.

Sealants are a wonderful preventative measure against cavities and are a great investment in your dental health since they can protect teeth from decay for up to 10 years, as long as they’re checked regularly for any wear or chipping.

These were just 5 tips regarding your child'd dental health. Thank you for reading and be sure to come back every week for a new blog post about your oral health, next week's topic will be "The Ins and Outs of Implants". See you then!

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