February is Children’s Dental Health Month! Because we want the kids of Arnold, MO and surrounding areas
to have the brightest, happiest smiles ever, we thought we’d go over the four important aspects of
pediatric dental care.
Creating good dental habits for your children should start in the morning. After breakfast, you
should brush your teeth with your kiddos if possible. When children learning good habits,modeling
the behavior can be beneficial. Let them watch you, and then work with them on their skills.
To start with, make sure you’re using a soft bristle toothbrush. If your child can spit their
toothpaste in the sink, use a pea sized amount of toothpaste. If you find they’re swallowing their
toothpaste, use a very small amount that is about the size of a grain of rice.
It’s a good idea to establish a consistent brushing pattern. This will ensure that all areas of the
mouth are taken care of. Start at the same place, on the same side, and follow the same order
when teaching your kids how to brush. For example, start on the left side with your bottom
molars. Work your way around to the front bottom teeth, then the right bottom teeth. Be sure
you’re paying attention to the back AND front of teeth surfaces. You’ll also want to make sure
that they/you are paying attention to the gumline.
Flossing is important because it removes plaque and food that is between teeth. Brushing can
only go so far, and flossing does the rest of the job. It’s not only good for your mouth, but helps
prevent bad breath, which makes cuddles with your kiddos much more enjoyable. Even
if your kids’ teeth aren’t touching, you can still work on forming the habit from a young age.
Make sure there’s fluoride in your toothpaste. In fact, among the many shared ingredients
in toothpastes, the most important is fluoride. Fluoride helps prevent painful cavities and decay,
and is so important for the health of your kids’ teeth. Most kids who have fluoride in their drinking
water, and use a toothpaste that contains fluoride are getting a sufficient daily amount to prevent
issues. You can see if it’s in your drinking water here;
In the past, some have said that fluoride toothpaste should only be used for kids old enough to know
how to spit into the sink. However, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists and the dentists at Arnold Smiles
recommend fluoride toothpaste be used from the start. The amount they recommend using
varies depending on age. A tiny amount, the size of a grain of rice, should be used for kiddos two and under.
This amount is safe if ingested. However, you should encourage your child to lean forward so that their spit
toothpaste fall out of their mouth. Once they get to the age of two, it’s easier to tell them to spit their toothpaste
out and they can have a pea sized amount of toothpaste. We recommend a fluoride application during your
child’s cleaning to give their teeth an extra boost of protection.
In addition to home brushing and flossing, you can also take extra steps to protecting your
kids’ teeth. The molar teeth are most susceptible to cavities for two reason. First, their chewing
surface has more pits and fissures than the rest of the teeth. This can make it more difficult for
toothbrush bristles to clean the chewing surface. Second, the majority of chewing is done with
your molars, increasing the chances of food and bacteria getting stuck and causing decay. To
protect your children’s molars, Arnold Smiles can apply sealant when the permanent molars come
in; usually around 6 years old and 12 years old.
A report published in July, 2017 by the Cochrane Collaboration, a group that studies and
analyzes health information, found that the prevalence of cavities was reduced by 51% in
children whose teeth were treated with sealants!
Prevention is key for everyone. Brush, floss, fluoride and sealants. Also remember to stay on
schedule for preventative appointments. Currently we recommend children be seen once a year
from age one to three and twice a year starting at age three. Please email us if you have any questions
or ask the dentist or hygienist at your next appointment! Happy Dental Health Month! Dr. M