As a new school year approaches, you may suddenly feel rushed and anxious, trying to prepare without missing anything important. In addition to compiling necessary school supplies and adjusting schedules, you will also want to make sure your child develops and maintains good oral hygiene to help avoid surprises later on.
The days and weeks before the new school year arrives is the perfect time to prepare and implement practices to ensure your child’s dental health is at its best and remains that way throughout. Here are five tips to help.
1. Establish a Dental Routine
A lax in dental routines can happen during the summer, and you can use the start of the new school year as a reason to establish a better one going forward. Let your children practice, including brushing twice daily and flossing at least once. The more they do this, the more the routine will become a habit, and you won’t have to constantly remind them.
You can also attach the dental routine to other tasks your child follows each day. For instance, have them brush their teeth after they get dressed for school each morning or after changing into pajamas at night.
Be sure to always keep supplies on hand, such as their favorite toothbrushes or toothpastes. Take your child with you to buy the supplies and let them choose a favorite-colored toothbrush or one with their favorite character.
2. Make Dental Care More Fun
Children have a lot going on today. Friends, homework, sports, playing games, and more fill their schedules daily.
Dental health, then, is most likely not in their top 10 list of fun things to do. Yet, there are ways you can encourage them, especially if they are younger, and make dental care more fun.
Consider ways that your child will enjoy. This may be giving them stickers each time they brush or other such small reward that they cherish.
You also have an abundance of choices when it comes to toothbrushes today. Some light up or play music as your child brushes. This music and lighting can continue for two minutes, ensuring the child brushes for that allotted time. There are also digital toothbrushes, with some including games to keep children engaged longer. Another option is to buy a fun timer to set each time they begin brushing.
3. Schedule Dental Visits
With such a wide variety of things going on during the school year, it’s easy to forget about scheduling regular dental exams and cleanings. Mark your own calendar before the chaos of back-to-school arrives, and call your dentist to schedule these appointments in advance.
A pre-back-to-school cleaning and exam can ensure your child starts out with no dental issues that can cause problems and possibly lead to unexpected absences. Set up the next appointment as well, usually in six months, so you won’t have to rush to make it when the time arrives.
Your dentist may also recommend your child receive fluoride treatments or sealants to protect teeth. A fluoride treatment involves your dentist applying fluoride, usually in gel form, to help protect against cavities. A sealant serves to seal any dips or grooves in teeth, preventing the build-up of decay that can lead to cavities and even gum disease.
Another discussion to have with your dentist during your initial appointment is to ask about mouthguards. This will particularly be important if your child plays any type of sport.
4. Promote Healthy Eating and Avoid or Limit Sugar
Back-to-school lunches and snacks require planning and preparation. To help ensure your child’s teeth remain healthy, try to promote healthy eating and, as much as possible, avoid or limit sugar intake.
Consuming too much sugar can damage teeth, leading to cavities and encroaching tooth decay as well as gum disease.
Limit amounts of candy and other sweets your child consumes throughout the day. Also, avoid giving them too many juices as these often contain a high amount of sugar. If these juices are important to your child, limit them to just 4-6 ounces per day.
Ideas to include in lunches or serve as snacks include:
Fresh fruits, such as apple slices
Fresh vegetables, like carrot sticks
Try sitting your child down and discussing what healthy eating is and why it is important. Involve them when planning and preparing their own healthy lunches and snacks.
5. Encourage More Drinking of Water
Drinking water not only keeps your child hydrated, but it can also help to remove any lingering bacteria in the mouth or build-up of plaque on teeth.
Let your child pick out a refillable water bottle to take with them to school and encourage them to drink more of it throughout the day. You can also include fresh fruits, such as strawberries, to freshen the water and provide a different taste every so often if needed.
Contact Lifetime Dental Health for Back-to-School Care
Before the new school year arrives, contact the team at Lifetime Dental Health to schedule all your child’s dental needs. An initial examination and cleaning can start your child off on a positive note, and regularly scheduled appointments can help them stay there. Call our office today to get started.
Dental care procedures, such as teeth cleanings, inserting a crown, or performing a root canal, can occasionally result in bleeding of the gums. While bleeding is always minimized, some bleeding is unavoidable in dental procedures. There are typically no long-term effects nor high risks associated with slight gum bleeding.
However, in general, a person can bleed more while taking blood-thinning medications. Therefore, patients who are on blood thinners should inform our dental team prior to undergoing any dental care.
What Are Blood Thinners? Anticoagulants and Antiplatelets Explained.
Antiplatelet and anticoagulant medications, colloquially referred to as blood thinners, are important medications that can help reduce the chance of blood clots in a high-risk patient. Anticoagulant medications act upon blood cells by slowing down or preventing the process of blood cells forming clots, known as coagulation. This “thins” out the blood, making it flow more easily through the veins, and subsequently, making it flow more quickly and easily out of an open wound.
These blood thinners can often be prescribed to someone who has coronary artery disease (CAD), a congenital heart defect (CHD), a history of clots, a history of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a history of pulmonary embolism (PE), or a history of cerebrovascular accident (CVA), also known as stroke.
Occasionally, blood thinners are prescribed after surgery to prevent post-surgical clots. Blood thinners are typically halted or discontinued prior to surgery to prevent bleeds during surgery.
Because these are serious medical conditions, most patients who are prescribed blood thinners are aware of the reason for their medications. Some patients who deal with polypharmacy are not aware of every medication function, and therefore, should get a list of current medications from their healthcare provider before seeking dental care.
Antiplatelet medications work specifically to stop platelet blood cells, which do most of the binding together in coagulation, from clumping together.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Advil or ibuprofen can also cause blood thinning, although not always. Furthermore, NSAIDs are typically not taken on a daily basis, like anticoagulants and antiplatelets.
What to Know About Dental Care on Blood Thinners
If you are only taking blood thinners (anticoagulants, antiplatelets, NSAIDs) for a temporary condition or finite amount of time, such as use for one week after surgery, then the smartest decision usually is to postpone dental care if possible until after the cessation of using blood thinners.
However, dental care can be done safely when on blood thinners. If you are taking blood thinners daily or indefinitely, stopping the use of blood thinners is generally not feasible. In fact, there can be more risk in stopping the use of blood thinners for patients who need them (which can lead to the aforementioned medical conditions, like clots, stroke, or heart attacks in at-risk patients) than with dental care with blood thinners.
Dental prophylaxis, or teeth cleaning, is a common dental procedure that dentists can most likely provide while a patient is on blood thinners. While bleeding can occur, there are many techniques in dental care to staunch or slow bleeding. One example is the use of gauze to staunch bleeds. Furthermore, the practice of minimally invasive dental techniques, suctioning and hemostatic devices, and even simply biting down during certain parts of a procedure, can reduce bleeding.
As long as our dental team is fully informed about your medication use, they can come up with a safe dental care plan that specifically caters to your use of blood thinners.
A thorough examination of medical history should include any current medications, medication or food allergies, medical conditions, genetic conditions, surgical history, major cardiac event history, dental history, dental surgery history, pregnancy status, alcohol or smoking or drug use, level of hydration, and labs such as clotting factor presence and Internalized Normal Ratio (INR) or Partial Thromboplastin Time (PTT).
By assessing these factors, you can be most prepared and knowledgeable about your own health. If you do not know this medical history information, you can contact any prior physician’s office or your primary care physician to obtain a medical record. Labs can be obtained at standard lab testing facilities or at an urgent care, emergency room, or physician’s office, depending on the situation.
Other dental procedures can often incorporate more bleeding than simple dental prophylaxis.
Some examples of these dental procedures are:
Scaling and deep teeth cleaning
Dental crown placement
Tooth extraction or removal
Biopsies of teeth or gum tissue
Wisdom teeth removal
If you’re taking blood thinners on a long-term basis, then you should inform our dental team, physician, and any specialists to identify the best course of action for upcoming dental procedures. This will be a unique decision from patient to patient.
Sometimes, the best way to protect oneself is through thorough communication and support from professionals. That is why it is important to consult with our dental team and your prescribing physicians about blood thinners prior to dental care.
Moving Forward: Care for Oral Bleeding
So what if you are on blood thinners and have oral bleeding after dental care?
Oral bleeding after dental care may occur after a procedure, but it is usually well-controlled and short-lived. Some simple bleeding might last for around 30 minutes after surgery, but it can be controlled through the use of gauze. Drinking cold or room-temperature fluids from a cup is recommended.
Some behaviors to avoid limiting oral bleeding after dental care:
Excessive spitting or rinsing out the mouth
Drinking hot beverages
Eating sharp foods like chips, popcorn, or nuts
Using a straw, which might irritate or poke gums (unless a straw is needed to prevent choking)
If you have bleeding from your gums or mouth for several hours in a row, and it is constant and non-staunchable with gauze, you should call your doctor. Alternatively, if you feel worried about the amount of blood loss you’ve experienced, you can go to an emergency care facility. Although this is highly unlikely in a patient who is on blood thinners, if you are experiencing large blood clots coming from the mouth, you should seek emergency care as well.
Most people can obtain safe, healthy, and beneficial dental care while on blood thinners. Dental health is connected to heart health and happiness, so it’s important not to neglect dental care because of mild worry. This information is intended to help educate, empower, and inform all patients on blood thinners.
For further questions about blood thinners and dental care, contact our dental team here at Lifetime Dental Health.
You’ve scheduled your dental hygiene exam, now what? How can you be sure you get the most out of it and benefit your overall health as well? There are different answers to this question, and knowing them ahead of time can help you prepare for a better experience.
Get the Most Out of Your Next Dentist Appointment
Instead of viewing your appointment as just another routine cleaning or exam, it has the potential to be so much more. Here are five proactive ways to get the most out of your next dentist appointment.
1. Assess Your Dental Health Before Arriving at Your Appointment
Before you arrive for your appointment, assess your dental health at the present moment. You don’t need to know all the symptoms or names for dental issues, just identify what you experience daily while eating, drinking, brushing, and flossing. Things to look for include:
Are any specific teeth sensitive to hot or cold? While you may not be aware you have a cavity, a tooth may seem overly sensitive to that morning coffee or ice cream dessert after dinner.
Do your gums bleed while flossing? Perhaps you floss, and a certain area of your gums bleeds, indicating gum disease might be present.
Do you have sores in your mouth? If so, consider how long you’ve had them. Normally mouth sores disappear on their own, but those that don’t may be an issue, including an abscessed tooth or a possible indicator of oral cancer.
Is your bad breath not responding to toothpastes and mouthwashes? Chronic bad breath not treatable by brushing and using a mouthwash can be a condition of a more serious oral health issue.
Are any teeth noticeably darker than others? Glance in a mirror and see if there are any tooth discolorations. If so, is this making you self-conscious? Several things can cause tooth discoloration, from staining to health issues.
Is your jaw tired or sore upon waking in the mornings? If so, mention this to your dentist. You might grind your teeth while sleeping or clench your jaw unknowingly.
While your dentist will look for these also, you may forget to mention symptoms if not prepared. A way to smartly get around this is to write down a list of issues you are experiencing as well as any questions you may have.
2. Identify Any Changes to Your Medical History
The condition of your mouth is part of your overall health, and symptoms displayed here can be connected to medical issues elsewhere in your body.
Whether this is your initial appointment with a new dentist or you’ve been with them for years, every appointment is the best time to update any medical information in your file.
Changes in your health can happen between dental visits. You may be diagnosed with a certain condition, prescribed new medications, or choose a new vitamin and supplement routine to follow. All of these can affect your dental health as well, so letting your dentist know can help speed up a diagnosis.
For instance, issues affecting your teeth and gums can be an indicator of diabetes. Any diagnosis for respiratory or gastrointestinal disease can be the cause of your chronic bad breath. If you receive a diagnosis of Sjogren’s syndrome, a common symptom is dry mouth, which can lead to cavities as well.
Are you taking any different medications since your last visit? Bring the bottles with you to the appointment or write them down, including the dosage information. Since many prescriptions can have side effects, some of these can directly affect your oral health.
For example, blood-pressure regulating medication, a prescription to help with depression, or a prescribed allergy medication can lead to dry mouth. If you take blood thinners, your dentist will need to know this before any procedure which may cause you to bleed.
Also, inform your dentist of any vitamins and supplements you’ve added to your diet recently.
By knowing your most updated medical history, your dentist can better determine when a dental issue is isolated to your oral health and when it may be connected to another health issue.
3. Reveal Any Anxiety You Feel at the Appointment
If dental appointments make you anxious, you’re not alone. Even scheduling a dentist appointment can make many patients nervous long before stepping inside the office.
You don’t have to hide your anxiety. When you schedule your appointment, mention it to the staff and ask them to relay it to your dentist. Once you arrive for your appointment, openly discuss any anxiety with your dental hygienist and your dentist directly.
A few ways to reveal your apprehension are to:
Tell them you feel nervous, anxious, or scared. If you have a particular reason, such as a bad past experience with a dentist, let them know.
Express any fears, such as the fear of injections or shots.
If pain is a concern, start off by revealing any current pain or sensitivity you experience, so your dental team will know to take special care in those areas.
Explain you are protective of your personal space, and it’s difficult to let anyone get close to you.
Working together, you can come up with ways to alleviate the anxiety, fear, or apprehension. For example, choose a signal to use to alert your dentist you want to take a break during a procedure. This solution gives you more control during the appointment and can help you avoid feeling panicked at any time.
You may also want to discuss undergoing sedation during a procedure. While you won’t be asleep and completely unaware of what is going on, you will remain calmer throughout. Another option is to bring a trusted companion with you to the appointment.
Essentially, learning to trust your dental team is the key to overcoming many of these fears and apprehensions.
4. Develop a Suitable Treatment Plan
Following your exam, if further procedures are necessary, develop a treatment plan that works for you. Learn what your options are and how much time each one will take. Also, ask about costs and payment options available.
Seek out explanations for anything you don’t understand. Ask for details, or choose to accept an overview of a procedure if the details make you overly anxious.
Schedule appointments before you leave, so you’ll know what to expect going forward.
5. Ask What You Can Do to Continue with Good Oral Health
Even if you already practice good oral hygiene, your dental team may have other suggestions on how to maintain your teeth and gums. Ask for recommendations, such as the best mouthwash to use for your sensitive teeth, occasional bad breath, or congregating bacteria.
Your dental health may differ from others in your household, so knowing unique ways to keep and positively affect your own is essential. Knowing how to continue with good oral health can also lessen the number of appointments you’ll likely need in the future.
Contact Lifetime Dental Health for All Your Dental Needs
Making the most of a dental visit is a valuable way to spend your time and can also benefit your overall health. Let Lifetime Dental Health help you get the most out of your next visit by scheduling an appointment with us today. Our team of compassionate and experienced professionals is here to help with whatever dental needs you have now and in the future.
Most of us do it twice a day. Many of us do it at least once. You guessed it! Brush our teeth. And maybe floss. We all know how to do it, and that’s a good thing. But there’s more to a good oral hygiene regimen, regardless of how often you do it.
What is a Good Oral Hygiene Regimen?
There are four fundamental tasks for basic oral health, and you may already do them. Still, we can all use a refresher course on how to do those tasks as well as we can.
Step #1: Brushing When? Preferably twice a day – when you wake up and when you go to bed. If you can’t do this, brush at least once every 24 hours. If you have breakfast prior to your first-of-the-day brush, wait to brush for 45-60 minutes, particularly if breakfast included orange juice or grapefruit. Acidic foods like these can loosen tooth enamel and brushing may damage your teeth.
Why? The #1 reason is to prevent cavities. Brushing removes plaque (a coating of bacteria) on your teeth which, if left to settle in, causes tooth decay. Just as important is that brushing also stimulates your gums. Gum disease does more than ruin your teeth. It can lead to major health problems, including stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.
How? Position your brush at a 45-degree angle to your teeth and gums and brush up and down on the front and back, and back and forth across the top. Brush for a minimum of two minutes. (You can buy electric toothbrushes that beep every 30 seconds, so you can brush each quarter of your teeth for the same length of time.) The American Dental Association recommends using a soft-bristled brush and an ADA-approved toothpaste.
Step #2: Flossing When?Before you brush. And at least once a day. Whatever is in your mouth when you fall asleep has all night to do its damage, so flossing just before bedtime is the optimal time.
Why? Flossing loosens up the bits of food that are too small to see. The ones stuck between your teeth and under your gums. Flossing loosens plaque as well, and that will help your brushing do a better job.
How? You can use dental floss wrapped around your fingers or one of the easy-to-use floss picks (a plastic holder with a piece of floss attached). Slip the floss between your teeth and guide it gently up and down along the side of each tooth and down into the space between tooth and gum. Don’t forget those molars in the back!
Step #3: Rinsing When? Every time you do Steps #1 and #2, also rinse with mouthwash. Pick a flavor you like (brand doesn’t matter) so you’ll be more likely to do it regularly.
Why? For the same reason you usually drink something after eating. Flossing and brushing are most important, but even done well, they can miss some things. Rinsing flushes out the last few bits of toothpaste and food. Not to mention that mouthwash makes your mouth feel – and taste – totally refreshed!
How? It’s simple! Fill the cap of the bottle with mouthwash and move the liquid around in your mouth for 30 seconds, then spit it out. Be sure to keep your lips closed while rinsing, so the mouthwash can do its job.
Step #4: Scraping When? You needn’t do this after every time you floss, brush, and rinse, but it’s a good idea to make scraping your tongue a regular part of your routine. And it only takes a minute!
Why? Food, bacteria, and dead cells collect on your tongue when you eat or drink. And all that debris can dull your taste buds and lead to tooth decay. While it may seem that brushing would be effective for your tongue as well as your teeth, it isn’t. In fact, one study found that using a tongue scraper can significantly reduce the number of bacteria known to cause bad breath and tooth decay.
How? Use a tongue scraper. They’re designed specifically to clean the tongue. After flossing, brushing, and rinsing, look in the mirror and stick out your tongue. Lay the rounded edge of the scraper across the back of your tongue (or start in the middle if the back activates your gag reflex). Pull the scraper gently along your tongue from the back to the tip. Never push the scraper from the tip to the back! One or two scrapes should do the job.
How Can I Tell If my Hygiene Routine Is Working?
The first indication will be almost immediate – your mouth will feel fresh, clean, and healthy. Over time, you’ll notice other conditions – and the lack of some – that demonstrate your success.
Your breath will smell fresh and your teeth will feel clean even when you first wake up
Your gums will look pink and healthy, and they won’t bleed when you floss and brush
Your mouth will flinch less when you eat or drink something hot or cold
What Else Do I Need to Know?
Here are a few extra guidelines for taking the best care of your mouth:
Eat plenty of crunchy vegetables and fruit
Limit food and drinks that are sugary or acidic
Drink plenty of water, and never chew ice
Keep your toothbrush clean and get a new one often
Don’t use tobacco
Of course, some problems and conditions can’t be seen in your bathroom mirror. So, it’s important to see us at least twice a year for a checkup and a thorough cleaning. We encourage you to contact us or make an appointment online. Your mouth will thank you!
If you’re like many adults today, you have your share of cavities, most acquired during childhood. And, like many adults, you probably have some not-so-cherished memories of the drilling, and the stuffing, and the discomfort that can accompany getting a filling. Filling cavities in our teeth is important, but it can’t quite be called fun. And it’s not a sign of healthy teeth, either. Cavities signal tooth decay, but how can you keep that decay away? Call on dental sealants.
Do Dental Sealants Help Prevent Cavities?
Brushing your teeth and flossing daily removes most of the food and bacteria from your teeth. But not all of it. Especially on teeth in the back of your mouth — molars and premolars. These are the teeth that do most of the work, the grinding and chewing, when you eat. And the surface grooves and fissures —which all teeth have — are deeper on these teeth than on others, and harder to reach when you brush, especially for young children.
Dental sealants consist of a thin coating of liquid plastic that’s painted onto the chewing surface of molars and premolars. They serve as an extra barrier to help protect these hard-working teeth from decay. Sealants work much like the commercial packaging we find on perishable foods in a store. They keep food particles, bacteria, and plaque from settling into the hills and valleys of your tooth’s surface in the way that a package, be it a can or a bag, keeps dust and dirt out of the food on your grocer’s shelves.
Dental sealants are permanently bonded to a tooth’s surface. To apply a dental sealant, we first use an acidic solution to roughen the surface of the tooth so that the sealant solution will stick as well as possible. Once the acid is rinsed off, the sealant is carefully painted onto the surface of your tooth. As the sealant is applied, it flows into all the crevices in the tooth, some of which are thinner than a strand of human hair. The final step is hardening the sealant, called polymerizing, accomplished by shining a curing light on the tooth for a few minutes.
Their application takes little time — most often less than 45 minutes — and helps ensure that your tooth will be ready to keep out bacteria and food particles for years to come. And it’s usually painless, a plus for children who fear the dentist or people who have particularly sensitive teeth.
How Well Do Dental Sealants Do Their Job?
Keeping cavities out of teeth in order to avoid the need for a dental filling is one of the main jobs dental sealants are specifically designed to do. Although they are most often used on children’s teeth, sealants can work well for adults, too. The statistics are impressive:
According to the American Dental Association, sealants can not only prevent cavities, but they can also sometimes halt the progression of tooth decay that has not yet created a cavity.
Is The Cost of a Dental Sealant Worth It?
Typically, placing dental sealants will cost from $30 to $60 per tooth, depending on the teeth, your overall oral health, and the number of teeth to be sealed. Most dental insurance plans either don’t cover sealants at all, or offer minimal coverage. Nevertheless, even without dental insurance, sealants are likely to be less costly in the long run than handling tooth decay by putting in a filling.
The initial cost of filling a cavity is significantly more than the cost of a dental sealant. A filling can cost as much as $150 depending on the size of the filling needed and the type of filling desired. And cavities, and the need to fill them, are not uncommon. According to Zentist, a dental insurance website, on average:
42% of children age 2 to 11 have cavities in their primary teeth
59% of adolescents age 12 to 19 have cavities in their permanent teeth
92% of adults have at least one cavity
Even if cost isn’t an issue, time and inconvenience often are. At the least, like getting a dental sealant, filling a cavity means a visit to your dentist. But getting a filling takes longer, can be uncomfortable during the procedure, and may cause pain (from mild to severe) that keeps you from your normal activities for the rest of the day. Sealants can be applied rather quickly, compared to filling a cavity, and they usually cause no pain or discomfort. And, unlike replacing a filling, which requires re-drilling the tooth, if a seal is broken, for whatever reason, the sealant can easily be reapplied.
As with any oral health decision, the real first step to stopping cavities with dental sealants is to talk with your dentist. We at Lifetime Dental Health are here to help, right from the start. To talk to one of our dental professionals or to make your first appointment, contact us. We’ll be happy to help you stop cavities in their tracks, before they reach your pearly-whites.
Many of today’s adults share common memories from childhood. Sunday drives, visits to grandma and grandpa, trips to the local playground or the city zoo, and hearing the iconic phrase – do as I say, not as I do – over and over again. Why? Because children are natural mimics and will do exactly what Mom and Dad do, no matter what it is. Of course, some of the things children mimic are things they shouldn’t do. But there is one daily habit parents can be proud of modeling for their children: Good oral hygiene.
Is Good Oral Hygiene Different for Children?
While many healthful habits are different for children than for adults, taking care of teeth is almost exactly the same: floss and brush daily, avoid certain foods and drinks, see your dentist regularly. Simple, right? Right. And easy to follow. For adults and motivated teenagers.
But for younger children, especially babies and toddlers, it’s a hard act to mimic. Nearly one in every five children between the ages of 5 and 11 has untreated tooth decay. Even baby teeth (now called primary teeth) can get cavities! And if cavities in primary teeth aren’t treated, permanent teeth could be negatively affected. Untreated tooth decay, even in early childhood, can lead to other dental and medical problems in adult life. Of course, all of those primary teeth will disappear eventually, but by the time that starts – when your child is around six years old — the damage from tooth decay will have already happened.
My Child Is Still a Baby. How Soon Should I Start?
Caring for your child’s teeth should start as soon as they come home from the hospital. It’s up to you to teach good oral hygiene habits, and here’s how to start:
Until your baby is about a year old, simply wipe their teeth with a soft, damp washcloth after the morning feeding and right before bedtime. This washes away bacteria and sugars that can cause tooth decay.
Never, ever let your baby fall asleep with a bottle. (As harmless as it may seem, this simple activity often generates tooth decay.) When teeth start coming in, usually around a child’s first birthday, begin using a soft child-size toothbrush and plain water.
When your child reaches toddler age, you can add a small dab of a non-fluoride toothpaste (non-fluoride toothpaste is safe to swallow).
As soon as your child is old enough to spit out the toothpaste, switch to one that has fluoride in order to give your child the extra protection fluoride provides.
You should introduce flossing — and demonstrate it — when your child starts brushing their teeth on the own. (Hint: the floss that comes on a plastic holder is easier for children.)
How Can I Make Good Oral Hygiene Habits Appealing?
Children get bored easily, we know, and caring for their teeth may not be as exciting as other things they could do. But children will understand caring for their teeth if you tell them (as one 5-year-old declared): “Plaque makes your teeth dirty, and you have to wash them.” It’s up to you, as a parent, to help make it interesting enough — even fun! — that they will establish a solid habit. Good oral hygiene habits will serve them well throughout their life. And they will look to Mom and Dad to learn what to do.
One of the most successful ways to instill oral health habits in your children is to make establishing those habits as much fun as the other things they enjoy. You know your children best, so you probably already have an idea of what will work. But just in case you’d like some fresh ideas:
Let your child choose their own toothbrush – their favorite color or a cartoon character they love. Just make sure the one they choose is a good size for their hand and has soft bristles.
If they want to, let them choose their own toothpaste, as well. They may not want the mint you like, but some companies have toothpaste with flavors like strawberry or watermelon.
Set up a system to reward your child for good oral care with something they’ll appreciate, such as staying up a little longer, watching a favorite movie, or being read a special story.
Avoid sugary treats or drinks as rewards, though. (This kind of defeats the purpose.)
Find a song your child likes and record exactly two minutes of it. Then play that two minutes when it’s time to brush. The American Dental Association advocates two minutes of brushing twice a day for both children and adults.
Best of all, let your child see you brushing your teeth correctly…and enjoying it. When children are young, anything Mom and Dad does is something they want to do, too, including brushing their teeth.
What if I Need a Bit of Help?
Come on in, and bring your child! At Lifetime Dental Health, we’ll be happy to discuss how best to handle your child’s at-home dental hygiene. We’ll explain ways to maintain your children’s teeth that are similar to how you take care of your own and explain anything you need to know based on the specific condition of your child’s teeth. In addition to setting the stage for healthy adult teeth, introducing children to dental care as early as possible can go a long way toward eliminating the fear some children experience when their first time in a dental chair includes lots of uncomfortable scraping and the scary sound of a dental drill.
To talk to one of our dental professionals or to make your first appointment, contact us. We’ll be happy to serve you and your little ones.