Brush, floss, repeat daily for good dental health

Each February, the American Dental Association, or ADA, sponsors National Children’s Dental Health Month to raise awareness about the importance of oral health.

Developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits helps children get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. Regular dental visits should happen every six months for a professional cleaning and to insure early intervention for any problems. Good habits are brushing teeth twice daily for two minutes and flossing once daily. But why do we do it?

Oral disease, including cavities, is caused by bacteria living in your mouth, eating the same food you eat. The problem is that bacteria produce acid that destroys teeth and causes gum disease. Oral hygiene (brushing and flossing) combats the bacterial assault and decreases the damage to your mouth. Foods that are high in sugar like soda, energy drinks and sticky sugary snacks give the bacteria a big advantage in the turf war for your mouth. Frequency of contact with high sugar foods also shifts the battle in the bacteria’s favor. It takes your mouth a minimum of 20 minutes to recover from sugary or acidic foods.

Why should parents brush and floss with their children? The National Education Association reports that “American students miss 51 million hours of school every year because of oral health problems” and that “students who have experienced recent oral health pain are four times more likely to have lower grade point averages than their counterparts who have not.” CDC reports up to one in three children have untreated dental disease. 

Much of dental disease can be prevented by good oral hygiene. Parents who brush and floss with their children send a powerful message on the importance of taking care of their mouth. You can help your child avoid emergency dental care by planting proven preventative measures in their daily lives.

Common questions/thoughts from parents include:

“What kind of toothpaste should I use?”

Fluoride toothpaste. Brand, flavor, and so forth are at your discretion.

“How much toothpaste should I use?”

American Association of Pediatric Dentists states “no more than a ‘smear’ or ‘rice-size’ amount for children less than three years of age; no more than a ‘pea-size’ amount for children 3 to 6.”

“Do I really need to help my child floss?”

Yes. If teeth are touching then you need to floss. Try the handy floss picks for you and/or your child.

“Who cares if they get cavities in their baby teeth. Won’t they just grow another tooth?”

Yes. But they will be at an increased risk for future cavities. Teach your children good oral hygiene now so they can enjoy their adult teeth for a lifetime!

 “I don’t take care of my teeth but I want better for my youngsters!”

Parents have tremendous influence on their children. If you don’t show them it is important by doing it with/for them, they won’t do it either.

“I just plan on having dentures. Feel free to pull’em.”

Dentures are an option but keep this in mind: dentures only chew with one quarter of the efficiency of normal teeth. That means if you chew and swallow a bite of banana in three chews, dentures would force you to chew it 12 times. This should never be your goal.

You can never get better teeth than the ones that your body comes with. Soldiers, Runion Dental Clinic has many doctors who are ready to help you take charge of your mouth. We have time and space to see you. Families, take advantage of your dental benefits and schedule regular dental visits in addition to your preventative home care. We can do a lot in dentistry to help put your teeth back together but an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Help your children keep their teeth!

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