Your child’s overall state of health can be affected by the condition of their gums and teeth. For this very reason, your child’s pediatrician will talk to you about good dental habits for kids before their first tooth even erupts. It’s also why it’s so important to get your children to the dentist by the age of one to start regular checkups. Read more about this in our post, “At What Age Should You Take Your Child to the Dentist?”
Once your child’s very first tooth comes in, it is recommended by pediatricians and pediatric dentists that they started getting fluoride varnish treatments in order to help prevent tooth decay. Watch the video below to hear Dr. Jason Horgesheimer talk about the benefits of fluoride varnishes at South Davis Pediatric Dentistry.
Why are Fluoride Varnishes Important?
Fluoride varnishes are used to protect the teeth and to help prevent tooth decay. These fluoride treatments can be done two or four times per year. How often you get the treatments for your child is directly related to how likely it would be for your child to get a cavity.
“One of the benefits of coming to the dentist on a regular six-month basis is a fluoride treatment. Fluoride varnishes are simply smeared on the teeth and it’s very beneficial to intercept small little cavities. One or two applications of these fluoride varnishes can actually remineralize or strengthen these cavities so that we don’t need to actually restore them with a filling.” – Dr. Jason
While there are some pediatricians who will apply fluoride varnishes at their office, it is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that the fluoride varnishes are applied at a dental office instead. Keep reading to learn more valuable information from the AAP regarding the use of fluoride varnish.
What is a Fluoride Varnish?
This is a type of dental treatment that can help prevent cavities and tooth decay, slow down the progression of tooth decay, or stop it altogether. Fluoride varnish is made with the mineral fluoride that’s known to strengthen the outer coating on the teeth, which is known as enamel.
It is important to realize that fluoride varnish treatments alone cannot completely prevent the formation of cavities. However, fluoride varnish treatments can help to prevent tooth decay and cavities when a child is also brushing their teeth with the right amount of fluoridated toothpaste, flossing regularly, eating a healthy diet, and visiting their pediatric dentist on a regular basis.
Are Fluoride Varnish Treatments Safe?
Fluoride varnish is safe. They are used by dentists and doctors around the entire world to help prevent cavities and prevent tooth decay from getting worse. The treatment alone contains a very small amount of fluoride and hardly any of it is swallowed. It hardens quickly immediately after it is applied. Then after four to twelve hours, it is brushed off.
Most children enjoy the taste of fluoride treatments as they are quite palatable. Some of the brands could make your child’s teeth appear yellow or dull, but this goes away once the treatment is brushed off.
How is Fluoride Varnish Applied to My Child’s Teeth?
The tincture which is known as the fluoride varnish is simply painted on the tops and the sides of each tooth with a little brush. At first, the substance may feel a bit sticky but as soon as it comes into contact with saliva it hardens. While your child might be able to feel the hardened varnish, they are not able to lick the varnish off of their teeth.
No pain is involved during the application process. However, some small children may still cry because they are fearful of the procedure. Brushing the varnish onto the teeth only takes a couple of minutes, and if the child is crying it can actually be applied at that time as their mouth will be slightly opened. In the case of small children, you may be asked to hold your child in your lap while you sit knee-to-knee with the person who is applying the varnish.
How Should I Care for My Child’s Teeth After the Fluoride Varnish is Applied?
Once the varnish has been applied to your child’s teeth, there are some general guidelines that you should pay attention to regarding the proper care for their teeth. Your doctor or pediatric dentist may offer other special instructions, so be sure to review with them as well.
Your child can start eating right after the varnish has been applied, but needs to avoid hot foods and drinks. Only cold and warm foods or liquids should be consumed right after the treatment.
Wait at least four to six hours before the child brushes or flosses their teeth. Many dentists will advise you to wait until the next morning to do so. Be sure that you instruct your child to spit everything out during the brushing of the fluoride varnish.
Other Reminders to Maintain Your Child’s Dental Health
Be sure your child is receiving care by a dentist who is specially trained to work with pediatric patients.
Ensure that your child receives enough – but not too much – fluoride.
Fluoride and fluoride varnishes are never meant to be swallowed. Be sure your child understands this.
Remind your child and check on them to be sure they are performing tooth brushing and flossing regularly.
Provide a healthy, balanced diet for your child full of fruits and vegetables.
It’s advised by the American Academy of Pediatrics to take your infant in for an oral health risk assessment by age six months or when their first tooth comes in (whichever comes first). This is especially true if the parents or other members of the family are especially prone to caries and tooth decay. Regardless, it’s important to have the child’s dental “home” established by their first birthday.
Do you have a baby that needs to be scheduled for their first check-up? Do you have children that are in need of fluoride varnish? Whatever the case may be, call the South Davis Pediatric Dentistry at (801) 294-8880 to get an appointment set up today. Physicians and parents throughout Bountiful, Centerville, Farmington, and Kaysville trust us for their child’s dental health needs, and so can you.
The new year is here folks, and we’re going to start it off right. Dental health and hygiene may not be on your radar for new years’ resolutions, but they should be! Prevention is a major part of happy and healthy smiles for children in your community, and that means more than just regular trips to your pediatric dentist. Here are our top dental health habits just for you!
Dental Health and Hygiene Habits
1. Brush teeth twice per day for two minutes. Mornings before school, and at night before bed are what we aim for. There are fun songs about brushing teeth, or time a song that your little ones enjoy and put it on repeat for two minutes. Brushing teeth should start as soon as the first tooth erupts. Read all about dental care in babies (it actually starts before the eruption) in our guide, ‘Baby Teeth: Eruption Timeline and How to Care for Them‘.
2. Include the tongue as part of brushing. We don’t always consciously think about it, but our tongues actually do quite a bit of work to clear debris between our teeth, and its very presence in the mouth means it is in contact with the same sugars and bacteria as our teeth. Be sure to incorporate a few brush strokes of the tongue into the two minutes. To learn more about how the tongue is a visual indicator of our health, read all about it in our post, ‘Is My Child’s Tongue Healthy?‘
3. Take your child to the store and let them pick out their own toothbrush. Letting them select their toothbrush will give them a sense of responsibility and ownership of their dental health. There are all sorts of fun colors and characters, so let them have some fun with it.
There are electric toothbrushes being marketed for children, however, we encourage you to research a bit before you buy. We wrote a guide for parents about this topic, ‘What’s the Best Electric Toothbrush for Kids?‘, hint (there’s only one on today’s market that has ADA approval).
4. Switch toothbrushes out every three months or sooner if you notice the bristles are worn. With frequent and proper use, those toothbrush bristles will wear out. Bristles that are worn on a toothbrush can actually harm your gums by wearing down the enamel and even causing your gums to recede. Furthermore, the fact is, worn-out bristles simply don’t clean properly. They bend away from the surface instead of stretching into the nooks and crannies of the teeth and in between.
Nevertheless, even if the bristles don’t look worn out, you need to replace it on a three-month timeline. Why? Take a look at your broom and you’ll likely notice a buildup of dust or debris on those bristles. Imagine a toothbrush to be similar to a broom. Its job is to brush away bacteria and debris on your teeth. While proper care of your toothbrush means food debris isn’t likely present, over time invisible bacteria will still build up on those bristles. For more information about proper care of your toothbrush, check out our in-depth article: “Toothbrush Care Guide: Everything Parents Need to Know”.
5. Floss at least once a day. Most parents who bring their kids into our offices will agree with our twice a day tooth brushing recommendation, and back it up by their actions. However, it isn’t uncommon to have a parent sheepishly admit that they don’t floss as often as they should. We aren’t here to shame anyone in regard to their dental habits. Odds are high that the parents who don’t floss very often, simply didn’t grow up flossing! Habits that we learn as children can stick with us throughout adulthood! Start out encouraging your kids to floss, and join them yourself. You are never too old to learn new healthy habits, and flossing is one that is a positive habit for everyone. Check out new and interesting flavors, (remember to look for the ADA seal).
6. Invest in a mouth guard for sports. Mouth injuries happen to kids, even if they aren’t playing a contact sport such as football. We recommend mouth guards should be worn for all sports, including biking and skateboarding. Studies show that wearing a mouth guard will lessen the likelihood of dentofacial injuries by more than 82%. A broken or chipped tooth, a root fracture, or a tooth knocked loose or all the way out is considered a dental emergency. Read our step-by-step guide on what to do in that type of situation to prepare yourself, ‘What Do You Do When Your Kid Breaks a Tooth?‘
7. Up your water intake! Most store-bought beverages have a shocking amount of sugar in them (or sugar substitutes) that might be tasty but are terrible for our teeth. It’s unfair to ask anyone to give up all other drinks, but we do think it’s fair to encourage you to increase the amount of water you and your kids are drinking. City water is treated with fluoride which is a vital defense for teeth. Furthermore, water will help rinse away bacteria and sugars from your meals and snacks in between your brushing routine. One way to facilitate more water throughout the day is utilizing a refillable water bottle and taking it with you on errands, and sending it in backpacks to school. When water is within easy reach, your kids are more likely to drink more of it.
Start Off the New Year by Scheduling a Checkup and Cleaning!
It’s never too late to prioritize the dental health of your children (and yourself!) All of the above tips for healthy habits can be applied to each member of your family, regardless of age. Utilize those dental benefits on your insurance this year, and start out by scheduling a checkup and dental cleaning for each of your kids. Preventative care is the bedrock of happy healthy smiles in our community. Give us a call, and we’ll help you start the year of dental strong.
We frequently, and with great passion, discuss the necessity of routine dental hygiene. Do it twice per day. Brush for two full minutes. Use fluoride toothpaste. Floss at least once a day. Drink more water and less soda and juices. Sound familiar? Of course it does; hopefully most of those directives are embedded in your brain!
Be that as it may, we don’t discuss as often how to take care of your toothbrush. Care for your toothbrush? You don’t have to love it (but when your kids love theirs, it can make life a bit easier). Still, think about it: all the bacteria, plaque, and germs in your mouth are scrubbed away with those bristles, but is it enough to do a quick rinse and shake of your toothbrush when you finish?
Let’s dig in!
Proper Storage of Toothbrush
The fact that we clean our teeth in the same room as we urinate and defecate seems normal, and while it is normal by our standards, it’s not necessarily clean. When you flush the toilet, the action sends an aerosol of microscopic particles of whatever was in the toilet, into the air. This is referred to as toilet plume, and has actually been the study of a number of research studies.
A knee-jerk reaction may be to move your toothbrushes to a cabinet or drawer, this is understandable and logical. Unfortunately, while that may protect them from toilet plume, it isn’t terribly sanitary either because an enclosed space will make it difficult for the bristles to dry out, thereby allowing bacteria and germs to propagate. If you’ve read up on the topic already, you may see some recommendations to store your toothbrush with a cap. Again, a storage cap creates an enclosed space that will prevent your bristles from drying out and can cause bacteria to actually grow with the moisture. So, what are you supposed to do?
Toothbrushes should be stored vertically, and without touching each other. Place the toothbrush stand on the opposite side of the sink from the toilet (or further away if space allows). When you are finished brushing your teeth, rub the bristles under water to wash away visible physical matter and remaining toothpaste. Shake to remove excess water and stand to air dry.
Cleaning Your Toothbrush
Despite your new awareness of toilet plume (or perhaps due to it), and therefore your better storage arrangement for said toothbrushes, you might want to consider cleaning your toothbrush. Some google results will suggest that you put it with the silverware in your dishwasher or giving it a few minutes in the microwave, but the American Dentists Association actually recommend against those methods of cleaning. Instead, research shows that soaking your toothbrush in either three percent hydrogen peroxide or Listerine Antiseptic mouthwash reduces up to 85% of bacteria.
Do You Need a Toothbrush Sanitizer?
In the last several years, toothbrush sanitizers have become a popular item that can be found in most drugstores, Walmarts, Targets etc. Although, just because these items are readily available, do you need one?
That depends mostly on how concerned you are about the aerosol of germs in your bathroom. Despite the fact that toilet plume does exist, which is gross, unless someone in your family has acute gastroenteritis (and even then) it is unlikely to actually harm you.
Nevertheless, toothbrush sanitizers are relatively affordable. When selecting a toothbrush sanitizer, be sure to buy one that has FDA approval. Many sanitizers use UV lights and/or heat, therefore purchasing one that has met the FDA standards will ensure it’s safe to have in your home.
Moreover, it is important to take note of the distinction in meaning between to sterilize and to sanitize. To sterilize something, that means to completely eliminate all bacteria. That’s not what these devices do. We’re talking about sanitizers, which means they will reduce the presence of bacteria not remove it altogether.
When to Replace Your Toothbrush
How long have your kids been using the same toothbrush? Are the bristles worn looking and wonky? General advice is that you should be replacing toothbrushes in the house every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles look worn. It’s also a smart idea to replace a toothbrush when someone’s been sick.
Re-use Old Toothbrushes
Hold onto those old toothbrushes before you throw them in the trash. There’s actually a number of things you can use them for, once they’ve been cleaned.
Toothbrushes are excellent for cleaning grout lines in bathroom tile, cleaning the metal sliding tracks of shower doors, and other corners around the house that are a challenge to scrub. Don’t forget your jewelry box, those bristles will reach well into the grooves of brooches, rings, earrings, and bracelets.
How about art projects? Toothbrushes are surprising substitutes for craft ideas around the house or as paint brushes in several different DIY projects at home with the kids. Here are a few to jump start your brain!
It’s Time for a Checkup!
When was the last time your kids had a dental cleaning? With Thanksgiving just around the corner, the holiday events, sports activities, and school final projects are picking up the pace. Bring your kids in before the end of the month to capitalize on your yearly dental benefits, and head into the sweet season with sparkling, healthy smiles. Give us a call today, to learn which of our three locations is nearest you.
We write regularly about parent tips for encouraging dental hygiene, healthy eating habits, and our pediatric dental services, and yet the sheer breadth of information on the topic of children’s teeth can seem rather overwhelming. Our staff answers individual questions from parents (and kids!) regularly, and you might be surprised to know that many of the questions bouncing around in your head, are frequently asked by others as well. With this in mind, we’ve put together a master list of frequently asked questions (FAQs).
When should I bring my child in for their first dental checkup?
We typically suggest you bring in your little one when their first tooth has erupted. This is generally between six to 12 months of age. If your baby is turning one year old and has yet to have their first tooth poke through, it’s time for a dental checkup, yes even without a tooth. For more in-depth information about this topic, check out our article.
How should I clean my baby’s teeth?
You can purchase a special infant toothbrush at most drugstores. The bristles should be soft and the head of the brush especially small to better fit their mouth. Brush twice a day, using a tiny amount of toothpaste (such as a grain of rice).
What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a regular dentist?
Pediatric dentists complete two to three additional years of specialized training after dental school. This additional training focuses on the techniques and tools specifically designed for children’s comfort as well as training to encounter, understand, and address the developmental and emotional needs for infants to adolescents, including children with special needs. For more information, read this article.
Are pacifiers bad for my baby’s teeth?
Pacifiers and thumb sucking are natural soothing habits for babies and toddlers. They can become harmful if they persist beyond three years of age. Chat with your pediatric dentist if you have concerns.
How often should my kid visit the dentist?
Everyone, adults included, should have two dental checkups per year. Most insurances have transitioned to including coverage for two per year, as companies analyze the cost benefits of preventative care. Be sure you’re maximizing your dental insurance benefits before the year is out, for more information about this, read our in-depth article.
How do I prevent tooth decay from nursing or bottle rot?
Research shows that breast milk while containing sugar, does not cause tooth decay, however once your baby begins eating foods the potential for tooth decay will arise. Bottle rot is a common term that refers to tooth decay that is caused due to improper bottle feeding habits. Keep your baby’s access to their bottle limited, and never put juice in it. Even before your baby erupts their first tooth, you should gently wash their gums with a clean washcloth and water to scrub away any lingering bacteria. For more detailed information about how to avoid bottle rot, read our article, here.
Should my child get dental sealants?
Dental sealants are a preventative measure dentists use that we strongly recommend. The crevices and ridges in teeth, particularly the back molars are favorite spots for bacteria and food stuffs to linger. Additionally, those back teeth are more difficult for children to reach when they brush. The dental sealants literally seal a protective coat to the crevices of the teeth protecting them from tooth decay and making them less deep, and therefore easier to brush clean. For more information about dental sealants, read here.
Does my child need fluoride treatments?
Is your primary source of water treated with fluoride? Or do you typically drink store-bought bottled water? Most city and town water sources have been treated with fluoride, it’s in fact considered one of the greatest public health accomplishments in the last century. Check to be sure your toothpaste has fluoride. When your child comes in for a dental visit we can discuss whether your child is a good candidate for a fluoride treatment, or supplement. We know that some families find the topic of fluoride controversial, so if you have concerns please bring them to us so that we can discuss. You can also read more about fluoride treatments, here.
What do I do if my child chips a tooth or one is knocked out?
Retrieve the tooth (or piece of it), but avoid touching the root. Place the tooth in a sealed container with milk, and call your pediatric dentist for an emergency dental appointment right away. For more detailed guidance if you find yourself in this circumstance, we’ve written up several scenarios and step by step instructions for how to respond. You can find them, here.
Many of these instances occur due to injuries from sports activities. We strongly urge parents to invest in mouth guards for their children. Mouth guards are required for contact sports such as football, but research shows they are necessary for all sports activities. For more information about mouth guards, check out this article.
What do I do when my child has a toothache?
If your child complains of a toothache, it is likely to be a symptom of tooth decay. Have them rinse their mouth out with some room temperature salt water. You can give them an appropriate dosage of child’s acetaminophen to help with the pain, and an icepack for their cheek if the area is also swollen. You’ll also need to schedule a visit with your pediatric dentist as soon as possible.
Why does a cavity in a baby tooth need to be filled?
A cavity in a baby tooth needs to be treated not only to ease your child’s pain, but also because the decay in one tooth can spread into others when left untreated. We prefer not to pull a tooth in such a circumstance because our body’s natural inclination is for the baby tooth to fall out when it’s ready. Until then, the baby teeth serve to preserve the space for the permanent tooth, and help with chewing and proper speech.
Are dental X-rays safe?
As previously mentioned, pediatric dentists are specially trained to work with kids. We take special care to limit exposure, lead protective aprons are used as is high-speed film. X-rays are important for pediatric dentists to properly assess dental issues so that nothing is overlooked that could become a bigger problem later on.
Schedule Your Child’s Dental Appointment Today
Before you get caught up in the swing of the holidays, be sure to get your child’s second annual dental checkup and cleaning scheduled! Our offices in South Davis, Herriman, and Redwood are at your service. Give us a call today.