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.
Most people assume that baby teeth aren’t as important as adult teeth since we lose them early in life. But the truth is that baby teeth really do matter for a variety of different reasons.
Background on Baby Teeth
An infant’s 20 primary teeth are already in place within the jaws at birth. They start to appear between 6 months and 1 year of age. The emergence of baby teeth often results in sore gums that can be alleviated with gentle rubbing. The average child will have all 20 primary teeth in place by the age of 3.
The Importance of Baby Teeth
Primary teeth are critically important as they help our little ones chew food and form words. Baby teeth also hold space for permanent teeth that will soon emerge from beneath the gums. If a baby tooth is lost prematurely, the adjacent teeth might drift into the empty space, making it challenging for adult teeth to find space when they finally come in. This is one of many reasons why taking your kid to a child’s dentist early in life is so important.
Don’t Delay That First Dental Visit
According to the American Dental Association, the first dental appointment should be scheduled within six months after the child’s first tooth comes in. Do not wait until beyond your child’s first birthday to have him or her seen by a dentist. This visit will give your dentist a chance to check your kiddo’s teeth for decay and other issues.
How You can Care for Your Little One’s Teeth
It is imperative that you take care of your child’s baby teeth from the get-go. The first step is to wipe your baby’s mouth in the first couple of days after birth. Use a washcloth or a moist gauze pad for this quick rub.
If your child is under the age of 3, brush his or her teeth three times per day and floss where teeth touch, as soon as the teeth have entered the mouth. Use fluoride toothpaste the size of a lentil. If your child is between 3 and 6 years old, use a little bit more toothpaste, roughly the size of a small pea and brush three times per day and floss where the teeth touch. Continue brushing your child’s teeth until you are confident that he or she can brush them on his or her own.
Kids start to get sufficient hand-eye coordination around the age of 8. If your child wants to brush and floss on his or her own, that’s great! Let he or she brush and floss, then an adult should follow up behind. An adult can brush and floss first, whichever method works best to get the job done.
Once your child has two teeth that touch, you can teach him or her how to floss! Encourage your child to floss each time he or she brushes to maintain oral health into adulthood. And don’t forget to schedule regular dental appointments at Playtime Dental.
If your child has had a tooth removed or lost a tooth earlier than the average, you should know of an oral appliance called a space maintainer. Space maintainers serve the purpose of holding space for a child’s permanent teeth to erupt if your child has had a tooth removed or lost a tooth too early. Their use in the early years can prevent costly problems down the road.
Candidates for Space Maintainers
If your child loses a baby tooth too early (before the permanent tooth is ready to emerge) then a space maintainer might be an option to help. It will hold the space left open by the missing tooth so that there is enough room for the adult tooth to enter the mouth. Children might also require space maintainers if they have primary teeth pulled as a result of dental decay. Regardless of which scenario has unfolded for your child, you should understand that a space maintainer will support your little one’s dental health.
Space Maintainer Details
Space maintainers are made by dentists and orthodontists with either a metal or acrylic material. It can be fabricated so it is a removable or a fixed appliance that will be placed in your child’s mouth. The fixed variety comes in different kinds: unilateral band and loop, unilateral band and loop with a distal shoe if the tooth lost does not have a tooth behind it, or a bilateral space maintainer for the upper or lower arch which holds space for teeth on both sides of the mouth if teeth are lost on both sides.
The space maintainer will minimize crowding issues as baby teeth are lost. This way, future orthodontic treatment may not be required as your little one’s teeth will have enough open space to shift into. It is worth noting that space maintainers are not necessary for every single child who prematurely loses a tooth. Be sure to discuss this option with your child’s dentist to determine if it is appropriate for your child.
Getting Accustomed to the Space Maintainer
It might take your child a few days to get used to wearing the new space maintainer. Both the fixed and removable varieties are foreign objects that the mouth will take some time to get used to. Be sure to clean the space maintainer to prevent negative impacts on the teeth and gum tissue health.
You will need to bring your child back to your dentist’s office regularly so that he can gauge the progress of treatment with the use of the new space maintainer. If you have any questions, feel free to give our office a call!
For some kids, brushing and flossing is like a chore that they do once in the morning and once at night. However, it doesn’t have to be this way! Making oral hygiene fun can have lasting effects and can even make kids take an interest in keeping their mouths clean and healthy.
There’s an App For That
It’s recommended that a child brushes his or her teeth for two minutes. A fun way to make sure they get the full two minutes in is to use a brushing app that plays a song for two minutes and have your child brush as long as the music is playing. Pick something they like and will make them want to stay there the entire time. A smile on their face while brushing will make the time pass faster. Also, if the song is something they really enjoy they might even look forward to the next time they get to brush.
Visits from the Tooth Fairy
Every child is different when it comes to losing teeth. Some kids love the idea of losing teeth because that means they are growing up! Others don’t like losing teeth because eating can become uncomfortable until the tooth falls out. A good way to make this fun is by using the story of the tooth fairy. Tell your child a new tooth will grow back soon but the tooth fairy will come and give some money in exchange for the tooth that has come out. This is a great opportunity to talk about brushing and flossing. Explain that the tooth fairy loves to see teeth in good shape so she knows that the child is doing a good job brushing and flossing. I have had some parents say the tooth fairy does not bring money for teeth with cavities that come out!
Prize Winning Teeth
A kids’ dentist can show children what can happen to their teeth if they don’t brush. Some dentists even give prizes for good oral hygiene or a good visit. If your child’s dentist doesn’t give out toys, perhaps you could find a small way to reward them for their good oral report. A reward system, such as a brushing and flossing chart with stickers, is a great way for children to get motivated. Then on the chart, have a spot for the six month check-ups that has a special sticker or reward to be given for a good visit. Oral hygiene doesn’t have to be a difficult task every day. Just by making brushing and flossing into something fun, you could see an improvement in the oral health.