February 18, 2019
Would you like to see less cavities the next time your child visits a pediatric dentist in Birmingham? You can start by teaching him or her proper brushing techniques. Learning how to perform this essential step early in life will put your little one on the road to lifelong dental health. Other tips to teach your family include proper flossing, eating a balanced diet, and avoiding all harmful substances.
Why Brushing is Basic
We don’t want to alarm you, but there’s a war going on in your child’s mouth right now. The bad guys are cavity-causing bacteria. They scavenge energy from leftover food crumbs and secrete corrosive acid that eats away at teeth’s protective enamel. The good guys are your child’s immune system antibodies. These two forces do war with each other 24/7, 365 days a year.
The immune system does a pretty good job of keeping the invaders at bay. But over time the bacteria can get the upper hand. When this happens, plaque begins to build up on the teeth. That’s why brushing is so important. It helps to remove this harmful layer of germs before it can do is dirty work.
Dentists recommend brushing at least twice a day, although bushing after every meal is better. But the way we brush is just as crucial as how often. Here are some tips your whole family can follow:
- Brush for a full two minutes. A timer or timing app can come in handy for this purpose.
- Hold the brush at a 45 degree angle. This allows the bristles to make maximum contact with the teeth.
- Clean all the surfaces inside the mouth. This includes not only the teeth but the tongue, insides of the cheeks, and the roof of the mouth. These are all places where bacteria can hide.
Flossing is Foundational as Well
Effective brushing is only one piece of the dental health puzzle. Flossing is a must-do supplementary step. It removes plaque and food particles that brushing alone can’t reach.
Floss string comes in a range of widths and with features like flavored wax coatings. Teach your child to floss in an up and down pattern and to clean the fronts and backs of the teeth rather than just the sides.
Does your family dislike flossing? You may want to invest in a countertop oral irrigator, also known as a “water pick.” These are both fun and effective.
Nutrition is Necessary for Dental Health
Your child’s body is a construction project carried out by microscopic workers that never take a break. They need plenty of raw materials like calcium, protein, and vitamins in order to do their job. They get these supplies from the food your family eats, which is why good nutrition is so important. Staying away from sugar is also essential, since cavity-causing bacteria use it as their primary fuel source.
Diet trends come and go. Avoid following the latest fad and stick with the basics, like eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and choosing lean protein sources like chicken or turkey breast. Tofu, chickpeas, and dairy products are good alternative protein sources for vegetarian households.
Lifelong dental health begins with cultivating good habits early in life. Use the tips in this post to teach your kids the basics of dental self-care. The foundation you lay today will turn into towering success tomorrow.
About the Author
Dr. Angelica R. Rohner is a board-certified pediatric dentist here in Birmingham and a graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry. She’s also a proud member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. You can reach her office online or by calling (205) 870-0892.
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