Basic FAQs About Fluoride for Children

Only a handful of people have issues with fluoride. There’s no question that it reduces the risk of tooth decay with children, though. In this blog post, we’ll try to answer some of the most frequently asked questions we get about fluoride use. 

What is Fluoride?

Fluoride isn’t manufactured by some chemical process in an industrial laboratory setting. It’s a mineral. It’s found in our soil, water and even in some of our foods. Fluoride doesn’t just prevent tooth decay either, in some cases it can even reverse it.

How Do We Get Fluoride to Protect Our Teeth?

In most cities in the United States, fluoride is used as a preventative public health measure in drinking water, so that’s one way. Plus, nearly all toothpastes contain fluoride. It’s also found in a variety of over-the-counter oral health products. Dentists also use fluoride in specific dental applications.

Why Would My Child Need Fluoride?

We know that kids love sugar, but even when they are careful to limit their sugar intake, our mouths are still littered with bacteria. When sugar and our natural bacteria combine, acid forms and tooth enamel is damaged. That begins the degradation of the teeth. Fluoride works to prevent a child’s teeth from becoming damaged by acid. It can even reverse tooth decay in its early stages.

What if Our Town Doesn’t Have Fluoridated Water?

If fluoridated water isn’t available in your area, it’s likely that your child will be at a higher risk of tooth decay. You’ll want to talk with your family dentist, who can arrange for fluoride drops or treatments for your child.

When Should We Begin Using Fluoride With Our Child?

A little smear of toothpaste can be used on a toothbrush once the first tooth erupts. As other teeth begin erupting, there shouldn’t be any issues with gently brushing. Don’t use too much toothpaste, though. You don’t want fluorosis to set in. If it does, and it’s on baby teeth it will be there until the adult teeth push the baby teeth out.

Fluoride is an important supplement in maintaining your child’s dental health, but it must be carefully monitored. Your child should have his or her first dental visit when that first tooth erupts. That’s one of the first steps in establishing proper oral hygiene and quality overall health. Contact us at Playtime Dental by calling 419-774-PLAY. We’ve treated children of all ages and would be happy to help your little one with his or her dental care. 

How Much Sugar is in These Popular Drinks?

Taking care of your child’s teeth is another aspect of the love you provide as a parent. However, with so many options available on store shelves, it’s not always easy to know what foods and drinks are harmful to children’s developing teeth. Here’s a look at several common types of beverages and how much sugar they contain. High sugar drinks could be contributing to the cavities your child’s dentist finds during periodic examinations.

Soft Drinks

Cola drinks have been a staple of American snacking for decades, but these drinks are high in sugar content. A 20-ounce soda contains 65 grams of sugar. That’s enough sugar to do significant damage to teeth, as well as create problems with weight and blood sugar levels.

Sports Drinks

Sports drinkshave become a popular option for active people. However, these drinks contain high amounts of sugar, about 21 grams in a 12-ounce glass, which can contribute to weight problems and tooth decay.

Fruit Juices

A 16-ounce glass of fruit juice such as apple or orange juice contains 48 to 52 grams of sugar. Although fruit juices have other nutritional benefits, the amount of sugar can be damaging to teeth if children drink it throughout the day.

Iced Tea Drinks

Commercially sold iced tea drinks contain up to 51 grams of sugar, which can damage teeth and create weight problems when consumed throughout the day. Depending on the flavorings added to the tea, the amount of sugar could be even higher. 


The amount of sugar in lemonades can vary widely. Homemade lemonade can be adjusted to provide less sugar and a more tart flavor. Commercially sold lemonade can have up to 67 grams of sugar, which can inhibit appetite, add empty calories and damage tooth enamel.


Milk is one of the less damaging beverages for children’s teeth, generally containing about 11 grams of sugar. For those who avoid dairy products, soy milk contains 8 grams of sugar, while almond milk contains about 7 grams of sugar.
When children ask for something to drink, the best beverage you can offer them is water, which is free of sugar and additives and helps to flush debris and bacteria from their teeth. Avoid sugary drinks as much as possible! 

If you’re concerned your child might have a cavity or if it’s time to schedule his or her next cleaning, give Playtime Dental a call

What Causes Bad Breath in Children?

When you think of baby breath you think of something delicate, airy and sweetly pleasant. But in reality, that’s not always what you get. 

Even healthy children sometimes experience bad breath. But if your son or daughter has persistent bad breath, it could point to improper dental hygiene. 

Common Causes of Bad Breath

The first and most obvious cause of bad breath in children, as in anyone, is unhealthy oral habits. You should teach your child from a very young age to always brush their teeth and tongue so that bacteria does not build up and bad odors are prevented.  

Let your child know that brushing the tongue is just as important as brushing the teeth. Supervise the brushing to make sure they are doing a good job.  Make sure children know from early on that regular care of the mouth is a normal part of each day.

Eating foods that have strong odors can also cause bad breath. If children are brushing regularly after every meal, this will help with that problem, regardless of what is consumed.

If your child is sick, there are two possible sources of bad breath — the medicine he or she is taking, or the infection/condition itself.

Check your child’s mouth regularly to make sure they don’t have any cavities, sores in the mouth or plaque build-up, all of which can contribute to bad breath.

Preventing Bad Breath 

It is the saddest thing to see a very young child with stained or rotting teeth. This is something that might affect them for a lifetime and could have been prevented with proper care. 

Don’t wait until your child has an obvious problem before acting. Take your children to the dentist now. Teach them that their dentist, just like Officer Friendly, is indeed their friend.  

You should encourage children to floss daily and take good care of their teeth so they can proudly brag when they visit their dentist and look forward to getting a new toothbrush.

The routine at Playtime Dental is designed to make your child’s visit fun and entertaining. If your child needs a dentist appointment, give our office a call today. We are currently accepting new patients!

Should Children Floss Before or After they Brush?

To floss or not to floss is not the question. We all know children need to get on board with flossing.  If you are wondering why your kids should floss, when they should floss, and/or how often they should floss, here are some things your child’s dentist wants you to know.

How Soon Should Children Start Flossing?

How soon should children start flossing?  As soon as they have two teeth touching each other, because that is when food particles start getting stuck between teeth.  

They will probably need your help until age 10 or 11 because children do not typically get good hand-eye coordination until around the ages of 8-10 and they might not get all the food particles.  When they’re older, they’ll also have the manual dexterity to do a good job.

Why Do Children Need to Floss? 

Simply put, our children need to floss to prevent cavity and gum disease.  Plaque that isn’t removed by flossing and brushing can harden and cause problematic tartar also known as, calculus.

Is There an Ideal Time to Floss? 

Decisions, decisions, decisions.  You may have heard that old song, “The Night Time is the Right Time!”  That may be the “right time” to be with the one you love, as the song says, but is there a right time or a wrong time to floss?  

Should children floss before or after they brush their teeth? Surprisingly, more people floss before they brush than after. They’re probably thinking if they get little food particles out by flossing, then they can brush and gargle them away. However, many dentists say it doesn’t matter.  

The important thing is that your children do floss every time they brush. So how often should they brush? Twice daily is normally recommended. However, if your child wants to be fanatic about something, brushing and flossing more often won’t hurt.

Just make sure that when you’re teaching your child to floss that you teach him or her to throw the floss away after using it and don’t save it for later. They might be “saving” bacteria, which will get back on their teeth when they floss the next time.

Act Now 

If you haven’t begun to educate your children on maintaining a healthy mouth, start now! If it’s time for your child’s next dental appointment, call our office today to schedule a visit with Playtime Dental. 

Learn How Xylitol Can Help Children’s Teeth

There’s a new “sugar” on the market, and it’s one you won’t have to worry about your kids getting their hands on. It’s called xylitol, a naturally occurring carbohydrate that looks and tastes like regular sugar. But since it’s not actually sugar, it won’t cause cavities in your children’s teeth. In fact, Xylitol has been approved by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) for reducing the risk of cavities in younger children.

What is Xylitol?

So we’ve already said xylitol is a naturally occurring carbohydrate, but where does it come from? Xylitol can be found in most of the fruits and vegetables that we eat on a daily basis, just in small amounts. In fact, it even occurs naturally in our bodies, with the average size adult manufacturing up to 15 grams of xylitol per day. For commercial purposes, however, manufacturers extract xylitol from corncobs or trees. In its pure form, xylitol takes the form of a white crystalline substance that looks and tastes like sugar.

How is it used?

There are several ways you can use xylitol. You can use its pure crystalline form as a sweetener, whether you’re pouring it over your child’s cereal or sprinkling it on some fresh strawberries. Xylitol can also be found in several oral care products, such as toothpaste and mouthwash. There are even xylitol gums and mints. Dental experts recommend children use a 100 percent xylitol product 6-7 times per day whether it is a mint or chewing gum containing xylitol.  The frequency of use is more important than the amount used and products containing less than 100 percent are not effective enough to help the dentition.

Benefits of Xylitol

There are many benefits of Xylitol that have been proven to help the oral health of kids when their teeth are still developing. Tooth decay occurs due to bacteria in the mouth multiplying and then releasing an acid that causes the tooth to weaken (demineralize) and decay. Unfortunately brushing and flossing only temporarily remove bacteria from the teeth.
Xylitol acts like a deterrent for these bacteria and keeps the acid levels down. In addition to reducing the risk of tooth decay, it also reduces plaque formation and increases the flow of saliva to aid in the repair of damaged tooth enamel.
If there are early signs of tooth decay in children less than five, it is a good idea to seek the help of a kids’ dentist. Those who cater to the young and growing will be able to focus better on the dental needs of a child than someone who only treats adults. Overall, keeping good dental hygiene and brushing twice a day will reduce the risk of cavities and Xylitol can supplement that to prevent the acid formation. Simple ways like this are better paths to take than dental work in the future.

School Lunches That Promote Healthy Teeth

With school in session, it is time to start packing lunches for the kids again. It can be easy to pack processed lunches or have children buy lunch at school rather than taking the time to prepare something healthy. But packing a healthy lunch can be critical to children’s oral health. Find out what foods to include in children’s school lunches to make sure their teeth stay strong.

Healthy Sandwiches

Most lunches will typically include a sandwich. To make it healthier, use whole grain wheat bread instead of white bread. If you’re making them a turkey or ham sandwich, consider adding a piece of cheese. Cheese is a great source of calcium and a certain type of protein called casein. You can spice things up further by adding vegetables such as tomatoes and lettuce if your child likes.
If your child isn’t a fan of sandwiches or just wants to mix things up, hummus offers a healthy alternative.

Yogurt and Milk 

If your child does not like the food you pack, there is a chance he or she might not eat all of it or simply throw it away. A healthy snack your kids are sure to enjoy is a nice cup of yogurt. Yogurt is packed with nutrients and oftentimes fruit, making it a great choice. Plus, it’s easy to eat.  Make sure to read the labels so you don’t buy yogurt filled with sugar!
Milk is always great for the teeth, but if your child is getting bored with traditional milk, try chocolate or strawberry milk. They will still get the added calcium and the added flavor will make it fun to drink. When you’re buying milk, skip the whole milk varieties in favor of 1 percent or even skim if your children will drink it.

Fresh Veggies

For a side item, it’s easy to pack some chips since it’s already packed neatly. Eating a bag of chips every day, even the snack-size version, isn’t good for your child’s teeth. Instead, try vegetables such as carrots or celery. See what your child likes to dip with them in.  A small amount of ranch can go a long way in making veggies more appetizing for kids.
Packing a lunch can be fun for the parents and the children. Getting your child involved in the process can be a valuable experience. Talk to your child to see which healthy foods he or she likes or is willing to try. That way you know you’re packing a healthy lunch that they will enjoy all while maintaining their oral health.

How Do I Care for My Toddler’s Teeth?

Caring for toddler’s teeth can be a challenge. Although a toddler’s teeth are small, they are like the teeth of an adult and must be properly cared for in order to maintain good oral health and hygiene. These tips and guidelines will help you keep your toddler’s teeth and overall oral health in the best condition possible.

Create a Routine

Your child’s oral health starts with you. As a parent, you need to make sure you are doing your part in your child’s brushing and flossing routine because children do not develop adequate hand-eye coordination to do a good job brushing and flossing until about the ages of 8 to 10 years. The most important times a child should brush and floss his or her teeth are in the morning and before they go to bed. Creating a routine can be difficult but it’s not impossible. You will have to help your toddler each time.  It is best to let the child brush and floss first, so that way he or she gets to practice and can develop the needed hand-eye coordination to do a good job. The best way to teach your toddler how to brush his or her teeth is to lead by example. Brush your teeth the same time your toddler is brushing his or her teeth. 

Locate a Dental Office

Finding a dental office you are comfortable with is in the best interest of you and your child. A children’s dentist is the ideal dentist for your child. A general dentist can be used, but a kids’ dentist specializes in the comfort, care and health of children. When you are trying to find a dental office for your toddler, consider its location, how far it is from your home and the type of insurance that is accepted.

Schedule Regular Check-Ups

Scheduling regular check-ups is perfect preventative care for cavities, gum disease and other issues that can occur due to poor oral hygiene. By your toddler’s first birthday, your child should be seen by a kid-friendly dentist.

Ration the Juice

While it is okay to give your toddler juice, do not let them sip it for an extended period of time.  The time it takes them to drink the juice is more critical than the amount of juice they drink.  Juice can be given to your toddler each day but it is only recommended with meals.   Water or a sugar free beverage should be used for between meals or for sipping.

Teach Good Habits

Teaching your toddler good habits is the best way to prepare for the future. Teach them how to properly use a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss, and tell them why it’s important to brush and floss their teeth at least twice each day.

Care and Prevention of Toothaches in Children

A child’s toothache can be caused by many different things but common causes of toothaches include tooth decay, dental trauma, loose teeth or erupting teeth and food wedged between the teeth. 

When Should You Contact Your Children’s Dentist?

You should contact a kids’ dentist when your child shows signs of pain. A few indications your child may need to be seen by the dentist include:

  • Swollen face
  • Acts or looks under the weather
  • Severe pain that has not subsided within an hour or two
  • Red or yellow lump present in the area of the gum line
  • Visible brown cavity or hole in the tooth

Caring for Toothaches at Home

Until your child is able to see the dentist, try some of these at home remedies to help relieve the pain:

  • Floss between your kids teeth to remove any impacted food
  • Give your child over-the-counter pain reliever to help dull the pain
  • If toothache is caused by an injury or trauma, apply a cold compress to the outside of your cheek.

Scheduling an Appointment

Your child’s toothache may require a dental visit to repair any damages and put preventive care into perspective. An appointment should be scheduled if the toothache does not go away within a 24-hour time frame. Most toothache causes can be treated in a timely manner and resolved permanently as long as the proper preventative measures are followed. After the appointment, make sure you help keep your child’s teeth in top-of-the-line condition by teaching them proper oral health habits. Depending upon your child’s oral health, your child may require more frequent visits to the dentist until all issues and concerns have been resolved.

Dental Sealants for Kids

Dental sealants are an easy, pain-free way to help prevent cavities and are especially useful for kids. Kids can be prone to cavities if they do not form healthy brushing and flossing habits early on in childhood. A dental sealant is applied to the teeth that have grooves, mainly in the chewing or cheek surfaces of the teeth, to prevent food from getting stuck and bacteria from entering the grooves and forming cavities. Here are questions parents often have for their kids’ dentist about sealants:

1. Why isn’t brushing and flossing enough?

Sometimes the chewing grooves on a tooth are too tight for toothbrush bristles to get in to the grooves and clean out food and bacteria.  Placing a sealant to seal the grooves then makes the surfaces of the teeth that have grooves more cleanable so cavities are not as easily formed.  This benefits children since they are learning how to brush their teeth and still developing the hand-eye coordination to do a good job.  Sometimes cleaning the back molars can be difficult since they are hard to see and reach for the undeveloped hand muscles.  Most children have sufficient hand-eye coordination to clean teeth between the ages of 8-10 years old.

2. What are dental sealants made of? Are dental sealants safe?

Dental sealants are made of plastic that starts off as a liquid and flows in to the grooves of the teeth which is then hardened with a curing light. Dental sealants are very safe. The plastic materials are not made with BPA and there is no health or medical concerns associated with dental sealants according to the American Dental Association.

4. Are they expensive?

Dental insurance typically covers dental sealants. For many patients, sealants are affordable. Dental sealants save many patients money because they prevent cavities and can eliminate the need for fillings if properly cared for.

5. How are dental sealants applied?

Dental sealants are very easy to apply. The sealant is applied directly to the tooth, where it bonds to the enamel. The liquid plastic flows in to every groove in the tooth and essentially makes the surface smooth and cleanable. This boosts the effectiveness of brushing and flossing. It’s quick and pain-free.

6. Do they last a long time?

A sealant can last for years. Depending on how children care for their teeth and what foods they eat, the sealants may stay in place for life.  Sticky, tacky foods can pull sealants off however. Your dentist may also apply touch-ups at every visit to ensure the sealant will last even longer.

7. Do they require special care?

A dental sealant does not require specific care or maintenance. Your child will be able to eat and drink normally and can eat his or her favorite foods with the exception of sticky foods like taffy or Tootsie rolls for example. Your child can brush and floss normally. There are no special mouth washes or rinses required. In fact, your child can eat the same day the sealant is applied.

Dental sealants are a great way to protect your children’s permanent teeth from decay and cavities. Ask us today to see if they are the right option for your child!

Risk Assessment Tool

Your child’s teeth are important, but it may be difficult for parents to determine if their child needs the attention of a dentist or not. While annual cleanings are easy to remember and schedule even if there is not an issue, it may be difficult to determine if your child needs further attention or if they are doing well with their teeth and oral care.

That is where the pediatric risk assessment tool comes in handy. We here at Playtime Dental use this tool at each cleaning to determine if your child needs further care and also to identify any issues or risk factors that may lead to a need for more dental work. The tool first looks at a wide range of factors that may affect the overall health of your child’s teeth. Who takes care of the child’s teeth, has there been decay in the past 12 months, do they use a bottle or a sippy cup, do they snack often, do they have special needs, etc.? These factors will let the doctor know what type of potential issues they may be looking for so that they can more accurately address any issues that are present.

The tool also looks at what type of preventative efforts you and your child are taking as part of their oral health:

  • Does your child visit the dentist regularly?
  • Do they brush?
  • Do they floss?
  • Do they use a fluoride rinse?
  • Do they drink fluoridated water?
  • Do they snack frequently?
  • Do they sip on beverages or drink them quickly?

These factors will help the dentist determine how likely it is that there will be issues with your child’s teeth.
Your kids’ dentist will then mark any findings that were present with the checkup. Did they find decay, broken teeth, white spots lesions (start of cavities), or excessive plaque, etc.? This is the chance for the dentist and staff to talk with the parent about everything that they found during the cleaning, which makes diagnosing and choosing a treatment plan option much easier.

The last aspect of the assessment tool is to consider what options are available for treating any issues found. Determining if the patient is a high or low caries risk guides treatment decisions. Some issues will not need dental intervention and can be taken care of at home by improving or increasing the frequency of, or by adding, brushing, flossing or a fluoride rinse to the patient’s routine. If further dental intervention needed, your dentist will suggest the solution that is going to be least difficult or traumatizing for the child and will help parents put a treatment method in place so that your child can have the healthy teeth that they need.