Oral Hygiene Instructions
Pediatric oral health and home care
Preventing tooth decay
Decay can start as soon as your child’s first tooth comes in and can be very painful for your child. Most often decay starts in the upper front teeth, but any tooth can be affected and can cause your child to lose their teeth. Tooth decay can happen when food, a beverage, or germs sit on your child’s teeth for too long. Germs can get into your child’s mouth from the saliva of others, such as yours or other adults or children. Germs live in a soft, sticky layer on your teeth called plaque. Plaque is the number-one cause of the two most common dental diseases: tooth decay and gum disease.
Tooth decay starts as chalky white spots usually on the upper front teeth near the gums. The white spots can quickly become dark (cavities) within 30 days if not treated by a dentist.
- If you see white or dark spots, take your child to the dentist as soon as possible!
- Foods and drinks, such as sugar, honey, soda, other sweetened drinks, baby formula, milk, and bread, can cause tooth decay.
Simple steps to prevent pediatric tooth decay at home
- Continue regular dental visits for your child in the dental home.
- Parents/caregivers have a continuing role in brushing the child’s teeth, twice a day and especially at bedtime.
- Don’t forget to floss their teeth, at least once a day.
- Use a very small amount (pea-sized drop) of fluoride toothpaste. More specifically one that provides cavity protection.
- As a parent\caregiver, maintain your own oral health through regular dental visits and treatment, if needed, to reduce the spread of bacteria to the child.
- Avoid sharing things that have been in your own mouth with your child.
- Check the child’s front and back teeth for white, brown, or black spots. (Signs of tooth decay.)
- Become familiar with the appearance of the child’s mouth.
- Consider dental sealants for primary (baby) and permanent (adult) teeth as indicated. Dental sealants are thin, plastic coatings that are painted on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to prevent decay. Applying them is simple and painless.
With good oral hygiene, plus dental sealants, your child may grow up without tooth decay.
Smart choices for health mouths
Thumb sucking and other sucking (such as pacifiers) can cause permanent change to your child’s oral bone development. Additionally, eating or sucking on acidic food such as citrus will cause the outer layers to weaken and become more prone to wear, and cavities.
In this video, we talk about all the oral habits that your kiddo might have that are detrimental to their growth and development. We go into detail on how to help your child break these habits.
- For “PACIFIER/BOTTLE” watch from the beginning
- “THUMBSUCKING” fast forward to 5:17
- “ORAL SENSORY” fast forward to 14:09
- “SIPPY CUP” fast forward to 16:14
- “DRY LIPS” fast forward to 17:15
Diet, nutrition, and food choices
- Healthy snacks and drinks are a major component of maintaining a healthy mouth.
- It is the frequency of the exposures to unhealthy foods and drinks, not the amount of sugar that affects the susceptibility to cavities.
- By age one your child should be completely weaned from a bottle\sippy cup and be drinking exclusively from a regular cup.
In this part two of the Infant/ Toddler care series we go into depth on how to overcome the struggles of teething. As well as, provide all the tips you will ever need on how to prevent cavities.
- For “TEETHING” just watch from the beginning
- “CAVITY PREVENTION” fast forward to 2:24
Ways to prevent dental injuries in kids
- First, it is highly important to use helmets when riding a bicycle, tricycle, or adult bike.
- We highly recommend the use of mouth guards in sports.
- Caregivers should always keep emergency numbers handy.
- If injury does occur, visit our trauma section for a detailed explanation on how to respond.
Getting kids started with good oral hygiene
How to teach kids to brush their teeth
- Start with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste
- Clean outer tooth surfaces – use a 45degree angle toward the gum line
- Clean chewing surfaces with back and forth strokes
- Clean inner surfaces with vertical up-and-down strokes
How to teach kids to floss
- Wrap 18-24″ of floss around your middle fingers
- Hold with thumbs, leaving about 1″ of floss between your hands
- Guide floss between teeth using a gentle back and forth motion
- Gently slide up and down several times between all teeth