The most common chronic childhood disease in America is tooth decay, affecting 50 percent of first-graders and 80 percent of seventeen-year-olds. Tooth decay is a disease caused by teeth’s natural bacteria mixing with sugars from our diets. The combination causes a reaction that produces acids. These acids eat into teeth causing cavities, possible nerve damage and eventual destruction of the tooth. The National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research estimates that children will miss fifty-two million hours of school each year due to oral health problems and about twelve-and-a-half million days of restricted activity every year from dental symptoms. Parents are the first line of defense!
Instilling healthy dental habits is one of the most important things Great Whites can do to ensure your child’s lifelong, healthy smile. This simply means: brushing and flossing twice a day, regular dental check-ups, diet (watch the sugar) and fluoride treatments. Practicing good hygiene will help your child avoid unhealthy teeth and costly treatments. Below is a guide to good dental habits.
Using a soft-bristled toothbrush and small strip of fluoride toothpaste, move the brush in small, slow, gentle circles to reach food at the gum line. Hold the brush at an angle and brush up on lower teeth, down on the upper teeth, covering the entire surface. Avoid swallowing toothpaste and brush your tongue before rinsing thoroughly with water. (Even if it tickles.)
Teeth should be brushed at least two times a day: after breakfast, before bed. When toothbrush bristles start to wear down, it’s time for a new one.
Dental floss gets the food and plaque from areas toothbrushes can’t. Simply pull a length of floss from the dispenser and wrap around your middle fingers. Guide the floss between all your teeth to the gum line, unwrapping clean floss from your fingers as you go. Floss once a day before bed. Just know, when you first start flossing your gums may bleed a bit. If the bleeding doesn’t go away after the first few flossings, let a staff member know at your next appointment.
Fluoride makes teeth stronger and resistant to decay and luckily can often be found in regular local drinking water. Unlike the majority of counties in the U.S., there is no fluoride in the drinking water in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Our dentists can discuss whether a fluoride supplement may benefit your child’s developing teeth.
Eighty-eight percent of total cavities in American kids are caused by bacteria reacting with food in the grooves and depressions of chewing surfaces. These are the hardest areas to clean. Tooth sealants protect these areas by sealing the groves and depressions, giving food and bacteria nowhere to hide. Sealants are made from a resin applied to areas prone to cavities. They last for several years but should be checked during regular appointments.