Brushing and flossing are just as important for your child as they are for you. Instilling proper oral hygiene techniques at an early age allows for your child to develop the skills they will need to maintain their teeth for a lifetime. Teeth should be brushed twice per day (morning and night) and flossed once per day. For children under 3 years old, use no more than a grain-of-rice sized smear of fluoride toothpaste, and for children ages 3-6 use a pea-sized amount. You may allow your child to try a turn at brushing on their own, but it is critical that you brush his or her teeth until he or she has the skills to do it properly on their own. As a general guideline, a child is not ready to brush by themselves until they can properly tie their own shoes, and in many cases not until ages 8-10. Dr. V, Dr. Megan, and our hygienists will help you determine if and when your child is ready.
Sealants are placed to reduce the risk of tooth decay, and are easy to apply in only a few minutes. Placing a sealant is non-invasive, and it can last several years before needing to be replaced. A sealant is a material that is most often applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. These areas of the teeth are at increased risk for developing cavities, as they have pits and grooves that make it difficult for toothbrush bristles to reach and clean. Dr. V and Dr. Megan can discuss whether placing sealants are an option for your child’s teeth, as sealants can save time, money, and the discomfort or anxiety commonly associated with repairing a decayed tooth.
Fluoride is commonly referred to as “nature’s cavity fighter,” as it is a naturally occurring mineral that helps prevent cavities by strengthening the enamel layer of the teeth. Fluoride provides benefit to our teeth in different ways.
During tooth development, and prior to tooth eruption, the fluoride we ingest from foods, water, and supplements helps to ensure that our teeth form a strong enamel layer that will be more resistant to cavities. Something as simple as drinking fluoridated tap water instead of bottled water can lower your risk of developing cavities, as science has proven that community water fluoridation prevents at least 25% of the cavities in children and adults.
Once teeth are erupted, topically applied fluorides from toothpastes, rinses, and in-office varnishes act to rebuild or remineralize weakened tooth enamel and slow or arrest early decay. Dr. V and Dr. Megan can help you decide if a particular fluoride application can benefit your child’s teeth.
For more information about fluoride from the ADA, click the PatientSmart box below.