How To's

Brushing Matters—Teach Your Kids Early

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month! DrTung’s thought it would be a good time to provide some tips for parents to help their kids incorporate useful oral health care habits and techniques into their daily routine.  The first question we hear a lot is “When should my child start brushing his or her own teeth?"

When to Start Brushing

Even before the first tooth has erupted, holistic pediatric dentists recommend  that you gently introduce your little ones to oral health care.  Otherwise, as some parents know, getting children to brush their teeth may seem like going to war.  Dr. Steven G. Goldberg, D.D.S., who practices in Boca Raton, Florida instructs parents to "simply wipe the teeth and gums with a warm washcloth after your child finishes eating—not only does it keep the mouth clean, it’ll help her get used to the feeling of someone touching her teeth, which may help to ease anxiety on visits to the dentist." And of course, can help them get used to teeth cleaning as a normal routine. As your child gets older and more of her baby teeth start to come in, you can begin brushing her teeth with a soft toothbrush, wet with water. Consult your child's dentist regarding the appropriate time for your toddler to begin using toothpaste. Use only a tiny amount of toothpaste, because young children will often swallow it, instead of spitting it out.  So we recommend a natural - even edible - non-fluoride toothpaste.(( Brushing lightly with water once a day at bedtime will help remove plaque bacteria that can lead to tooth decay.

First Trip to the Dentist

It's also a good idea to plan on taking your child to a holistic pediatric dentist by their first birthday to discuss the health of baby and how sleep quality and positions, posture, diet, airway and breathing issues all factor in. And, although baby (or primary) teeth will eventually fall out, they serve an important role in your child’s development.  They help kids chew food properly, which aids in digestion, and can even affect speech and articulation. Plus, baby teeth are essential for guiding the permanent teeth into place and allow for proper alignment and development of the dental arches. Holistic dentists will also discuss materials he or she will be using, and the consideration of the rest of the body when it comes to prevention and treatment.((  Here are three excellent resources to find a holistic dentist in your area:

As Your Child Grows

By three years of age, your child will have 20 baby teeth. And though it’s perfectly fine for your child to model your brushing habits, they don’t quite have the coordination to brush properly by themselves until they’re about 8 years old. Until then, Moms and Dads need to make sure to help with the brushing, ensuring that plaque is removed each day.  By six years old, many kids begin losing their baby teeth, to be replaced by their adult or permanent teeth.  This second set needs to last another 70 or 80 years, so it’s critical to instill good brushing habits at a young age.

What about flossing? Is it over-the-top to floss baby teeth every day? If you’re not flossing you are only cleaning half of the mouth, which increases the risk of decay. Gently floss along the sides of each tooth up to the gum,holding the chin for best control of the head.

How Kids Should Brush Their Teeth

How you brush matters—and kids should brush like their parents, twice a day. Check out these tips from the Australian Dental Association which could help make brushing fun, or at least, get the child to be a willing participant.((

  1. Make brushing a game: Invent and change the rules, or create characters and a storyline
  2. Lead by example: Brush your teeth first
  3. Create a brushing chart: Sign off your child’s success both morning and night, or perhaps create a (non-food related) reward system

Proper Brushing Technique

Every mouth is different, so there is more than one technique of brushing that cold be effective. Deciding which technique is most appropriate for your child depends on factors such as teeth positions and gum condition. Consult your child's pediatric dentist to determine which brushing technique is most appropriate for your child's mouth. Many dentists recommend a circular technique for brushing. You brush a small group of teeth at a time, gradually covering the entire mouth. Maintaining a circular or elliptical motion is important say many experts, as using a back and forth motion could wear down root surfaces or cause receding gums.

What Type of Toothbrush is Best?

A soft-bristle toothbrush is best—for kids AND parents. It allows you to only brush hard enough to clean the film off the teeth. Firm or even medium bristles, or vigorous scrubbing, may cause damage to gums and enamel. And teach your kids the “2 + 2 = 4” rule—brush two times per day for two minutes. Four minutes a day goes a long way for your dental health. DrTung’s Ionic Toothbrush is an excellent choice for you and your child. Unlike regular toothbrushes which try to force plaque off the teeth by friction, the IONIC brush makes the teeth let go of plaque, like turning off a magnet! It’s never too early to get your kids started on the path to optimal oral health. Ensure you have the right equipment and understand proper brushing technique and recommended frequency.  In upcoming blogs we will look at the negative impact of amalgam fillings, mercury and other traditional applications being used in children's dentistry and how you can help your kids prevent oral health issues. Give you AND your kids something to smile about. You’ll save on dental treatment costs and they'll thank you….eventually!

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