Why is Oral Health so Important?
Did you know that caries (or tooth decay), are the most common disease in children worldwide? Cavities (sometimes visible as holes in the teeth) are the result of tooth decay. However, cavities can be prevented with good tooth brushing and flossing techniques done daily.
How to Brush
Dr. Peterson recommends using a soft toothbrush and toothpaste with fluoride, a vitamin that helps strengthen teeth and prevent cavities. For children under the age of three, use toothpaste the size of a grain of rice. Children above the age of three, a pea sized amount of toothpaste is adequate.
Children should always brush under the supervision of an adult to prevent accidents. Parents should help brush their child’s teeth until they are about seven, or can tie their shoes. Start on the same side and go in order so that you can remember where you have brushed. Begin on the lower right side on the tooth surface towards the cheek. Place the brush at a 45-degree angle, where the gums and teeth meet. On 2-3 teeth at a time, gently move the brush in a circular motion, using small gentle strokes.
When you have completed the cheek side of the teeth you can begin brushing the biting surface of the teeth. With the toothbrush flat on the teeth gently brush back and forth on the top surfaces of all teeth.
Clean the tooth surface near the tongue and roof of the mouth in the same way as the cheek side, with a 45-degree angle brushing in circular motions. When you get to the front teeth, you can turn the toothbrush vertical and continue the same technique.
After you are done, have your child rinse with water to remove anything left behind, or extra toothpaste. If your child is too young to spit, use a clean washcloth to wipe out excess toothpaste and saliva.
When to Begin Flossing
Some children, especially young ones, will have space between their teeth where the toothbrush is able to reach all surfaces. However, this is not always the case, so the dentist can help decide when you should start flossing your child’s teeth. Flossing is how you remove plaque and food that gets stuck in between the teeth and gums. When teeth are touching, the toothbrush alone is unable to reach in these areas.