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Saliva is your body's best mechanism for fighting the destructive forces of acids formed by plaque. Saliva acts as a buffer and re-mineralizing agent. Sugarless gum is one way to stimulate the flow of saliva in your mouth in between brushings.
The best way to prevent cavities, however, is to brush and floss your child's teeth twice daily. Fluoride, a natural substance that also helps re-mineralize the tooth structure, is used in some community water systems and is a main ingredient of many types of toothpastes. If your child is at high risk for cavities, we may recommend special high concentration fluoride gels, mouth rinses, or dietary fluoride supplements.
Children are the most susceptible to developing cavities. Heredity also may play a major role in how susceptible your child's teeth are to the formation of a cavity. For example, tooth structure, size, and shape may be passed down through many generations. This includes deep pits and grooves, which are ideal "plaque traps."
Many cavities originate in the hard-to-clean areas between teeth and in the fissures and pits - the edges in the tooth crown and gaps between teeth.
Common symptoms of a possible cavity may include:
- A painful toothache
- Higher sensitivity in your teeth to hot or cold temperatures, liquids, or food
- The presence of decay such as white spots
- Tooth discolorations
- Often, cavities develop without any pain or other symptoms. That is why it is so important to schedule your child for regular, routine visits with our office.
Left untreated, cavities can lead to more serious problems for your child, such as infection of the core of the tooth (pulp) or root canal, permanent deterioration, and even loss of the tooth itself.
Your child should avoid frequent consumption of high sugar foods, especially sticky foods, because the longer the food stays on your teeth and gums, the greater the likelihood a cavity will form. Healthy snacks that are low in sugar include white milk, fresh fruits, raw vegetables, dark breads, whole grain and enriched cereals, sugar free candies, gum and other snacks. High sugar foods are best eaten with a regular meal.
Brushing & Flossing Your Teeth
It's very important to brush and floss after every meal in order to keep your teeth and gums healthy. If you need help choosing the right toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss, please ask us and we can help you choose the right products for your teeth.
- Brushing Instructions
Brushing: Step 1
Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gum.
Brushing: Step 2
Brush gently in a circular motion.
Brushing: Step 3
Brush the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of each tooth.
Brushing: Step 4
Use the tip of your brush for the inner surface of your front teeth.
- Flossing Instructions
Flossing: Step 1
Wind about 18 inches of floss around your fingers as shown. Most of it should be wrapped around one finger, and the other finger takes it up as the floss is used.
Flossing: Step 2
Use your thumbs and forefingers to guide about one inch of floss between your teeth.
Flossing: Step 3
Holding the floss tightly, gently saw the floss between your teeth. Then curve the floss into a C-shape against one tooth and gently slide it beneath your gums.
Flossing: Step 4
Slide the floss up and down, repeating for each tooth.
For decades, fluoride has been held in high regard by the dental community as an important mineral that is absorbed into and strengthens tooth enamel, and thereby helping to prevent decay of tooth structures.
In nearly every U.S. community, public drinking supplies are supplemented with sodium fluoride because the practice is acknowledged as safe and effective in fighting cavities.
Some private wells may contain naturally fluoridated water.
What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a safe compound found throughout nature - from the water we drink and air we breath, to many kinds of foods.
Why is fluoride important to teeth?
Fluoride is absorbed into structures such as bones and teeth, making them stronger and more resistant to fractures and decay. A process in your body called "remineralization" uses fluoride to repair damage caused by decay.
How do I get fluoride?
Just drinking fluoridated water will provide a certain measure of fluoride protection. But for years, health professionals have endorsed the practice of supplementing our intake with certain dietary products, and topical fluorides in many toothpastes and some kinds of rinses. Certain beverages such as tea and soda may also contain fluoride. Certain kinds of dental varnishes and gels may also be applied directly to teeth to boost fluoride intake.
It is generally not safe to swallow toothpastes, rinses or other products containing topical fluoride. In rare cases, some people may be over-exposed to high concentrations of fluoride, resulting in a relatively harmless condition called fluorosis, which leaves dark enamel stains.
Ask us if your water has fluoride in it. If it doesn't, we can discuss giving your child a prescription for fluoride drops if they are at high risk for decay.
If your child participates in most any sport, a mouth guard could be a lifesaver in terms of preserving teeth.
Anyone who participates in a sport that carries a significant risk of injury should wear a mouth protector, according to the American Dental Association. Sports like basketball, baseball, gymnastics, and volleyball all pose risks to your child's mouth and teeth. We usually think of football and hockey as the most dangerous to the teeth, but nearly half of sports-related mouth injuries occur in basketball and baseball.
A mouth guard can prevent serious injuries such as concussions, cerebral hemorrhages, incidents of unconsciousness, jaw fractures, and neck injuries by helping to avoid situations where the lower jaw gets jammed into the upper jaw. Mouth guards are effective in moving soft tissue in the oral cavity away from the teeth, preventing laceration and bruising of the lips and cheeks, especially for those who wear orthodontic appliances.
Mouthguards, which typically cover the upper teeth, can cushion a blow to the face, minimizing the risk of broken teeth and injuries to the soft tissues of the mouth. A blow to the face could also damage the brackets or other fixed orthodontic appliances. If your child wears braces or another fixed dental appliance on her lower jaw, a mouthguard is available for these teeth as well. A mouthguard also provides a barrier between the braces and your cheek or lips, limiting the risk of soft tissue injuries. If your child has a retainer or other removable appliance, do not allow him to wear it during any contact sports.
Types of Mouthguards
There are three types of mouth protectors:
- Stock - Inexpensive and come pre-formed, ready to wear. Unfortunately, they often don't fit very well. They can be bulky and can make breathing and talking difficult.
- Boil and bite - Can be purchased at many sporting goods stores and may offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors. They should be softened in water, then inserted and allowed to adapt to the shape of your mouth. If you don't follow the directions carefully you can wind up with a poor-fitting mouthguard.
- Custom-fitted - Made by our office for you personally. They are more expensive than the other versions, but because they are customized, they can offer a better fit than anything you can buy off-the-shelf.
Care for Your Mouthguard
Clean the mouthguard by washing it with soap and warm (not hot) water. Before storing, soak the mouthguard in mouthwash. Keep it in a well-ventilated plastic storage box when not in use. Make sure the box has several holes so the mouth-guard will dry. Heat is bad for mouth guards, so do not leave it in direct sunlight or in a closed automobile. Don't bend the mouth guard when storing. Instruct your child to not handle or wear someone else's mouth guard. Contact us if there are any problems with the mouthguard.
Deep pits and grooves often collect plaque, debris, stain, and tartar. A toothbrush can't simply keep these areas clean nor can it reach down into the tiny crevices. Technology today has produced sealants, which work by filling in the crevasses on the chewing surfaces of the teeth acting as a glass like shield. This shuts out food particles that could get caught in the teeth, causing cavities. The application is fast and comfortable and can effectively protect teeth for many years depending on your child's dietary, grinding, and chewing habits. Sealants are best suited for permanent first molars, which erupt around the age of 6, and second molars, which erupt around the age of 12. Here in the office we touch up any necessary sealants at no charge for our patients after the initial placement.
Xylitol is a natural, non laboratory manufactured, effective, and safe sweetener that is GMO, casino and gluten free making it safe for all consumers including: diabetics, hypoglycemics, individuals with osteoporosis, and food intolerances or allergies. It can be found in fruits, berries, hardwoods, mushrooms, and corncobs. Health food stores often carry xylitol gums, toothpastes or gels, mouth rinse, nasal spray, food bars, and mints. It can also be purchased in its original form and used for baking. Xyliotl is a friendly substance for the teeth and body. It inhibits the growth of cavity causing bacteria and reduces the risks of decay due to the bacteria having a difficult time living and multiplying. The key to consuming Xylitol and getting the most benefit is to "strive for five" exposures per day. This means immediately after snacks and meals have a mint, piece of gum, or other product. If you are using it in your baking or cooking ingredients this will be factored into your 5 exposures. The Xylitol will stay in you r mouth, nasal passages, and on your teeth to help aid in a healthier oral and nasal cavity. Expecting and new mothers can use this product to help decrease the cavities of their fetus or infant by ingesting it themselves which will in return decrease their own bacteria count. There are few side effects to Xylitol: excessive amounts (4-5 times more than the recommended amount) can cause diarrhea, bloating and or flatulence. Overall benefits are: reduces bacteria, plaq and acid, repairs weakened / damaged enamel, no aftertaste and 100% natural. *This product is not safe for dogs*