Brush Up on Healthy Teeth! Simple Steps for Kids’ Smiles

It’s that time of year!  As we head into 2012, many of us are challenging ourselves to maintain New Year’s resolutions!  While we, as parents, often have difficulty taking care of ourselves, we do strive to take care of our children as best as we possibly can.  I’d love to share some of the most important points to keeping up a healthy mouth and beautiful smile for your little ones!

  1. Start cleaning teeth early.  As soon as the first tooth appears, begin cleaning by wiping with a clean, damp cloth every day. When more teeth come in, switch to a small, soft bristled toothbrush. Brush with water, or a training toothpaste if your child is having a hard time. Often the sweet flavor of the training paste can entice a child to allow you in.
  2. Brush twice, Floss once.  Nighttime brushing is certainly the most important brushing time of the day.  Cleaning the residue from food and drinks consumed throughout the day is imperative.  Brushing after breakfast ensures that they start the day off with clean chompers.  Flossing is necessary as soon as teeth touch…consult with your dentist if you are unsure.
  3. Use the right amount of fluoride toothpaste.  Fluoride is important for fighting cavities, but do not go overboard.  Children under 2 should use a fluoride-free toothpaste, and as they approach 3, begin using a fluoride rich paste for their nighttime brushing.
  4. Supervise brushing.  While it may seem easy as an adult, proper brushing technique takes a fair amount of manual dexterity!  Many toddlers try to assert their independence in many ways, tooth brushing included.  It’s great to encourage their excitement about brushing, but nothing takes the place of a good cleaning by an adult.  Be sure to get a turn, and if your child is super wiggly, lay them down on the bed, couch, floor and brush that way….you will be surprised at how easy it can be that way and how much you really get to see!
  5. Monitor diet.  As pediatric dentists, we know the potential harm sticky snacks can cause.  Keep such snacks to a minimum, and if possible, push them to the end of the day, as brushing and flossing will be happening soon afterwards.  Although sticky snacks tend to be our least favorite, we also encourage children to eat and drink in regular, limited intervals. Try to avoid grazing and sipping as much as possible.  Juice offers very limited benefit to the body, and while it is okay to consume a glass a day with a meal, avoid it if your child does not show any interest in it.
  6. Water, water, water.  Not only is water wonderful for the body as a whole, it is a wonderful way to help wash away food and debris throughout the day.
  7. Call your dentist with any questions!  Since visits are months apart, never hesitate to call if you are worried about anything in particular.

By Dr. Ozzie Jafarnia, DDS. Dr. A. Ozzie Jafarnia, or “Dr. Ozzie” as she is known to her patients grew up in the East Bay, and is proud to be Danville’s only American Board of Pediatric Dentistry certified dentist. She currently works at Danville Pediatric Dentistry located in Blackhawk Plaza Cir, Ste 203, Danville, Ca 94506,  (925) 837-7745.