“Great job! No cavities!”. Children and parents love great checkups! Is it possible to remain “cavity-free” for a lifetime? Yes, it is, and it is never too early (or too late) to develop healthy habits.

An oral hygiene ritual is an excellent opportunity for parents to model good habits. We recommend parents brush or monitor their child’s brushing until age 6. Brushing twice a day for two minutes and daily flossing are essential. Smear a small amount of fluoride toothpaste on a soft brush for children under three and use a pea-size amount for children 3-6 years old. Once a toddler has two teeth that touch (“the contact point”), it is time to begin to floss because flossing helps prevent cavities and gum disease—even in young children! Flossing removes a sticky film called plaque. Plaque contains bacteria that feed on leftover food or sugar in your mouth. When that happens, it releases an acid that causes cavities. In addition, plaque not removed by brushing and cleaning between your teeth can eventually harden into a rough substance called tartar (or calculus). Once tartar forms, only your dentist can remove it.

Need some ideas to make caring for your child’s teeth more fun? Make brushing a family affair to do together. Some parents find a brushing app for younger children, such as the free Disney’s Magic Timer app, a great way to get children excited about brushing for two minutes. This app slowly reveals a Disney virtual sticker as the “Mickey Timer” counts down and spins every 30 seconds to remind the child to move to a different area of the mouth. At the end of two minutes, the reward is a short firework display before the sticker is placed in a virtual sticker book the child can access and view at any time. Older children and teens find  staying on course for two minutes is easier when they brush while listening to their favorite saved song. We recommend an inexpensive electric toothbrush for older children and teens that shuts off the brushing action at the end of two minutes. Sometimes, our doctors may recommend a  fluoride rinse or a special toothpaste for home use. It is important to follow the dentist’s recommendations, and return for regular checkups, usually every six months. Our dentist will also monitor jaw and facial development. Catching growth abnormalities and gum disease early, or cavities when small, are more easily treated. It is also important to offer your child foods that are low in sugar and rich in nutrients. Nutrition not only impacts general health but that of teeth and gums.  Assure proper fluoride through drinking water, fluoride products, or fluoride supplements.

Excellent hygiene, a good diet, and routine checkups are the best ways to fight tooth decay and gum disease. Also, check out the great videos in our website’s video library.


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