Toothbrushing should be performed by a parent or adult for all young children. Most children are unable to do perform this vital and necessary task adequately prior to 7 or 8 years of age.
***General Rule: Caregivers should be brushing or assisting in brushing for children until the child can write in cursive handwriting. At that point, the child has enough control of his/her manual dexterity to brush effectively.
Use a small, soft toothbrush in good condition. Toothbrushes wear out and should be replaced often.
Children under the age of 3 should use a rice grain size of fluoride toothpaste.
Children above the age of 3 should use a pea size amount of fluoride toothpaste
Position your child facing in the same direction as you are.
Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums. Using slightly firm pressure, brush in short circles.
Brush the outer surfaces,the inside surfaces and the chewing surfaces of all teeth. To clean the chewing surfaces of your teeth, use short sweeping strokes, tipping the bristles into the pits and crevices.
To clean the inside surface of the front teeth, position the brush vertically and use the tip of the brush in circular strokes.
Super Star Tip
Use an egg timer or sing a favorite song while brushing your teeth to get used to brushing for a full 2 minutes for children ages 5 and up. Some electronic toothbrushes have timers that let you know when 2 minutes are up.
It is vitally important to clean germs from between the teeth whenever the teeth are in contact. This is best performed by an adult until children are least 8 or 9 years of age. Flossing helps prevent cavities from occurring in between the teeth, and helps prevent gum disease.
Use about 18 inches of floss. (Don’t try to use too short a piece!) Lay the floss across your open palms.
Close your fingers over the floss
Turn your palms over and hold the floss with your thumbs and index fingers
Rub the floss gently up and down between the teeth, keeping it pressed against one tooth and then the other to clean the teeth on both sides of the point of contact. Be careful not to snap or jerk the floss into the gums.
Reposition the floss in your hands to use a clean spot as you go around the mouth. While it may be awkward at first, with practice the process will be easy.
Flossing should be done once each and every day. You’ll know you are doing well when the gums do not bleed any longer. Remember, healthy gums do not bleed!
Diet and Snacks
Healthy food choices can help to reduce many of the diseases that plague modern society, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and, of course, tooth decay.
Here are some helpful Do’s and Don’ts:
Drink water and regular milk
Eat non-sugar snack foods, such as cheese, popcorn, raw vegetables, nuts, cottage cheese, or yogurt.
Eat lean meats, such as chicken or turkey. Vary your choices. Try more fish, beans, peas, nuts, and seeds.
Color your plate with all kinds of great tasting fruits and vegetables.
Be sure to read nutrition labels to check for sugars and eliminate foods that have sugar listed as one of the first ingredients. Note that most packaged food is high in sugar and sodium and low in nutrition
Do not drink soft drinks, sports drinks, and sweetened iced teas.
Do not drink fruit juices. Limit juices to special occasions and do not keep it in the house. Juice is the number one cause of cavities in school age children.
Do not eat high sugar snacks.
Do not snack frequetnly.
The following products are proven to be of benefit to our child patients and are readily available in local retail stores or, in some cases, from our office.
We recommend any soft, small toothbrush. The bristles must be small to avoid harming the gum tissue, and small to permit access to the back teeth. The Crest and Oral-B brushes are noted for their quality. It is important to have several brushes in use at once, so the brush can dry out between uses. Also, change the brushes every few months.
Electric toothbrushes can also work well:
SpinBrush electric toothbrush (Crest) is inexpensive and comes in a variety of fun styles for children. Available at local drug stores.
Sonicare- the sonic toothbrush (Philips Sonicare) This brush uses ultrasonic vibrations to help remove bacteria from hard to reach areas, expecially for patients with gum disease and those in orthodontic appliances. Recommended for teenagers and up.
Dental Floss / Floss Threaders
Available at local stores. Note that other brands tend to get stuck between the teeth.
For those who have trouble managing dental floss, we suggest these products:
Glide Floss Picks (Crest) “Helps make flossing simple.” (800) 645-4337
Interdental Flossups (Longs Wellness) Available at Long’s Drug Stores.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that all children use a fluoride toothpaste reguardless of age.
Colgate TOTAL and Crest for Kids (has fluoride) is especially recommended.
Fluoridex Prescription toothpaste has 1.1% sodium fluoride and 5% Potassium Nitrate and is recommended for sensitivity relief, orthodontic decalcification, and prevention of decay in patients with a high rate of decay. Available for purchase at our office.
Colgate Prevident 5000 1.1% Sodium Fluoride is recommended for our high caries risk patients. It is a Rx only toothpaste and can be purcahse at our office.
ACT .05% fluoride anticavity rinse. Recommended for all patients old enough to rinse for 30 seconds and then spit. Available at local drug stores.
Listerine antiseptic mouthrinse (Johnson and Johnson) recommended for patients with or at risk for gum disease. Try the Cool Mint or Citrus flavors. Listerine also makes two fluoride rinses:
Listerine Smart Rinse .0221% fluoride (for young children)
Listerine Total Care (for teenagers and adults).
Fluoride helps reduce dental decay by strengthening tooth enamel. Fluoride is absorbed into the teeth when present in the mouth. Fluoride toothpaste and mouthrinse are recommended for all patients (and parents, too!)
Fluoride foam or varnish is applied as part of our routine cleaning procedures in the office.
Some areas of Santa Clara Valley have fluoride in the water. If your area does not have fluoride, your doctor may prescribe additional fluoride drops or tablets as needed.
Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that has been shown to reduce dental plaque and tooth decay. Exposure to xylitol in very young children and patients with a high level of tooth decay is especially helpful.Five daily doses in various forms are recommended for effective results. For more information, go to www.xylitol.org