Category: Baby Tooth Care

Can Dental X-Rays Be Harmful?
Can Dental X-Rays Be Harmful?

As a parent, there is a natural concern or even objection to your child having x-rays on their teeth. Can’t radiation be extremely harmful to children? Is it even necessary?

All dental experts agree: No to the first question, yes to the second. The first objection is perhaps the most common, and the most obvious concern. Children get their first tooth often before their first birthday. Isn’t it extremely harmful to expose an infant to radiation?

Here are the facts. In comparison to other ways bones and other internal organs are examined, x-rays are the most comfortable and fastest way to examine anything inside the body – and most importantly, identify a particular issue if there is one.

The whole process to capture the x-ray is only a few seconds and cannot be felt at all. Dental experts agree that there can be far more damage in the avoidance of x-rays. This is because they can detect issues and potential issues regular dental instruments can not, and can allow the dentist to identify cavities, view emerging adult or wisdom teeth, catch early decay, and even small fractures in the case of an injury.

Without the use of x-rays, the detection, prevention, and resolution of these issues would be nearly non-existent – and ultimately, more detrimental – costing you more money and your child more pain in the long-run. Cavities and decay especially can occur between teeth or in places not visible by a regular probe. In the case of a damaged root or a tooth that is positioned improperly under the surface of the gums, this is impossible to identify and treat without x-rays.

If this quick and painless process has any discomfort whatsoever, it’s the measures taken to ensure your child is positioned properly for the brief moment is takes to capture the x-rays. The dentist or pediatric dentist will most likely explain to your child that they are going to take a picture of their teeth and in order to capture this they have to sit very, very still. This way, the child is not frightened and is more inclined to move as little as possible for the few seconds the machine is obtaining the images.

These examinations only take place usually once a year (every other semi-annual appointment) which means the amount of x-rays passing through are incredibly spread out. Not only that, your child will wear a weighted lead vest during this process to protect the rest of their body. Truly, however, the vest is very strictly precautionary.

If you have any further concerns about x-rays, do not hesitate to talk to your child’s dentist at their next appointment. Chances are they will reassure you that x-rays are risk-free and necessary to monitor a growing smile closely and effectively.

What to Do In Case of a Toothache
What to Do In Case of a Toothache

Tooth pain can be some of the most brutal pain you can experience, given that the mouth is such a sensitive area. More than that, we use our mouths for almost everything. Talking, eating, breathing, expressing ourselves – toothaches can really set you back!

When your child experiences what seems to be severe tooth pain, there are steps you can take before they’re able to see a dentist.

The first thing to do would be to identify the tooth or the area where your child’s mouth is hurting. Many times the cause of pain (especially for growing kids) is the sensation of a new tooth growing in or food that has become lodged in the gums. For this, gently try to wiggle it out with dental floss.

On the other hand, if a nerve is exposed, any and all activity, even just breathing (air getting to the nerve) can be excruciating. So if it appears that it is due to an exposed nerve and it is during business hours, call our office right away. The pain will be constant and almost unbearable.

If your child is able to handle the pain, it is recommended you wait 12 hours after before seeing a dentist. This is because often the pain can subside after awhile or can resolve itself. Chances are, if the pain persists that long, it will require professional attention and is a sign there is something wrong. 

If an urgent matter occurs outside business hours, use our app (link below) to send an emergency photo. This will be sent to the Kidds Place right away, even if we are not open. This is a really incredible feature most dental offices do not have!

If an adult tooth becomes dislodged or gets knocked out, time is of the essence. Pick the tooth up (not by the root end!) and examine it for cracks. If it has none, try to re-insert the tooth back into its socket and try to get into a dental office straightaway. If the tooth does not stay in the socket, take it to the dentist in a cup of the patient’s saliva or milk – yes, milk! This will keep the tooth preserved better but only for a short time.

There is an old wives tale that says placing a crushed aspirin on the toothache can cure it – this is NOT dentist recommended! It is better to administer the aspirin or another pain reliever into your child’s system the recommended amount (depending on age).

In short, here are the steps to take when first a toothache arrives:

  • Do your best to clean the affected area and to floss out any debris, if there is any
  • Rinsing with warm water can also be soothing to swollen gums.
  • Gargle warm salt water every hour – this will not only soothe, but disinfect.
  • Do not eat or drink anything very hot or very cold – instead try putting a hot pack on the outside of the affected area.
  • Avoid sweets or junk food.

We know toothaches aren’t fun – so call us when you have an issue or use our app when your child is in pain. We’re here for you!

Download our app:

What Toothpaste is Best for Toddlers?
What Toothpaste is Best for Toddlers?

Is the kind of toothpaste we use really that big of a deal?

While many come dentist-recommended, one of the most important things you can do for your smile everyday is to brush your teeth, regardless of whatever you are using to do this.

If you have a toothbrush that is able to get every nook and cranny of your mouth, it’s crucial that you are using it to get any bacteria and buildup off of your teeth. Most toothpastes have a bacteria-fighting agent in them that aid you in doing this. If you’ve ever brushed without any toothpaste, you may have noticed a difference as to how much less time it takes for your mouth to feel “gross” again.

Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

When it comes to children brushing their teeth, it’s important that as soon as their first tooth comes in that you begin brushing it for them until they are old enough to do it on their own. While still in infancy, do NOT use toothpaste with fluoride, but use a gentle, baby-sized toothbrush with water (or fluoride-free baby toothpaste).

Once a child is 3 years old, then you can begin using toothpaste with fluoride. This helps build up the enamel and makes teeth strong. Be sure that you are only placing a pea-sized portion on the toothbrush up until they are about 7. This prevents swallowing too much and can also aid in preventing fluorosis; a minor cosmetic issue that occurs on the surface of the teeth if a build-up of fluoride begins incurring. It basically looks like brown or white spots appearing on the enamel.

According to the American Dental Association, here are the top recommended brands for kids that won’t break the bank:

  • Crest® Pro-Health Stages® Disney Princess Toothpaste – This toothpaste is guaranteed to fight against cavities, and the mild gel formula has been kid tested and approved. The packaging features Disney characters, which all children love.
  • Aquafresh® Fresh ‘N Fruity – The subtle flavors of this brand makes it a great transition toothpaste for toddlers coming out of infancy. It gently cleans vulnerable new teeth and includes fluoride for cavity protection. This toothpaste is suitable for children three years and older; supervised use is recommended.
  • Colgate Children’s 2-in-1 toothpaste – This toothpaste is approved by the American Dental Association and is recommended best for children over the age of five. It is a liquid gel formula that is kids are known to love and comes in a variety of flavors to suit their individual tastes. It provides dual benefits as both a toothpaste and a mouthwash that protects your kids’ teeth against cavities.
  • Tom’s of Maine, Natural Anti-Cavity Toothpaste for Children – This brand has a defense mechanism against bacteria and acids. There are no artificial preservatives, dyes or saccharine in this toothpaste and it contains real fruit juice to make it taste great for kids.

Source: Children’s Dental

 

How to Respond to Bullies
How to Respond to Bullies

School is back in session!
Your child might either be very excited or disappointed that summer is over, the air is colder, and school is here to stay for the next eight months!

On top of learning new academics and adjusting to a new routine, there is also new social dynamics to be learned within their classes.

While every school is different, you hope for the best that your child does not have to deal with teasing or bullying. The truth is that even if you have effective communication with your child, they may still be hesitant to tell you if another kid is pushing them around. This could be because they’re embarrassed, nervous, or wanting to handle it on their own.  

For the safety of your child and every child involved in a bullying situation, it is not something to be handled light-heartedly. While the older generations are known for writing off bullying as “character-building”, a mildly abrasive encounter can eventually lead to a much more serious issue if a child is not punished for acting out against his or her peers.

While of course the goal as a parent is to eventually teach your child to be effective in problem-solving and independent enough to fight their own battles, bullying is an issue because, especially in more severe situations like an event of a physical altercation, an adult is the only force that can step in and put an end to it. If the event transpires on school property, administration most likely gets involved and that can lead to further disciplinary action. The goal is, of course, to never get to that point!

Yes, the effects on a victim of bullying can be long-lasting (emotionally, mentally, and physically), but what can almost be considered more detrimental is a bully that was never effectively disciplined for his or her behavior and then grows into an aggressive and out-of-control adult.

A way to open up the discussion with your child is by telling them a story about your personal experience. There’s a high chance you were bullied, know someone who was – or were a bully yourself! This normalizes what they might be feeling and are more likely to open up about what they’re going through.

If your child is in fact, experiencing issues with bully, here is the recommended advice (in fact, you may wish you had these step-by-step tips when you were a kid!)

  1. While It’s Happening:

The first thing anyone can do while confronted with a bully is to walk away or remove themselves from the situation. If this is not possible and you are cornered, tell the bully firmly to “stop”. The most important thing a victim to do is to try and keep their emotions calm, even if it’s just on the surface. If you can remain calm on the outside, the bully has nothing to fuel their fire to continue to taunt you. They are spurred on by their subject reacting to their provocations, so being able to control a knee-jerk response can shut them down pretty quickly.

  1. After:

Tell a friend you trust to help process the situation and support you. Friends are great to have even in situations where the confrontation might not have been that severe or stayed in control.  Next, tell an adult you trust, even if the altercation did not escalate to threats or physical violence. Even just experiencing being talked down to: “You’re stupid” “you’re so ugly”, name calling, etc. NEEDS to be stopped as this can spar a bully on to bigger and badder endeavors. Talking-down is a step-ladder for which these insecure boys and girls can build aggression for further deeds. It’s important to note that reporting a serious issue is NOT tattling, and a child should be praised for having the courage to speak out in a difficult situation.

  1. Over time:

Try to avoid areas where you and a potential bully can come into direct contact without adults around. This might be in the hallways, at a bus stop, or on the playground. If you can, have a buddy system where you always have one or more friends around you. Not only are bullies less likely to corner a victim when there’s people around, but if a situation does arise, you will have at least one witness to testify to the event.

It’s also important to have go-to friends or adults you look up to in order to talk out your emotions. Getting your feelings out in the open is therapeutic; just because a conflict is resolved doesn’t mean there are not lingering emotions. If it helps, consider journaling to vent on to paper. Processing the events over in your head can help you recognize next time when a bad situation is stirring. Practicing at home or writing down responses to a bully can also help you remember a good and proactive statements to make in the heat of the moment.

 

For other ideas, visit the Anti-Defamation League’s page on bullying. Have a great school year!

What’s the Big Deal About Primary Teeth?
What’s the Big Deal About Primary Teeth?

Here at the Kidds Place, we know that newborns and infants have an enormous amount of needs – the phrase “high maintenance” doesn’t even begin to cover it! It’s no wonder oral health can easily be sidelined during these times; to make way for other health and dietary needs that seem more pressing. It could quite possibly be due to the fact that we typically associate dental care with people who, well – actually have teeth!

You may have heard of dentistry for children, or have read about the importance of children having several visits with a pediatric dentist before all adult teeth erupt and all baby teeth are lost.

In fact, most experts say that all children should see a dentist before their first birthday, or around the time their first tooth erupts – whichever comes sooner. But why?

Here are some parents many questions may be asking themselves –

“Does my one-year-old baby really need to see a dentist? Aren’t pediatric dentists kind of expensive, even with insurance?”
“Why would my child need to see a dentist if they haven’t even started eating solids yet?”
“How bad is it if my child gets a cavity in their baby tooth, if they’re just going to lose the tooth anyway?”
“How much brushing is really necessary, especially if my child only has a couple of teeth?”

Let’s address these plausible objections. First of all, the Kidds Place accepts many forms of insurance and we are delighted to work with families and discuss prices for the types of care your child(ren) may need and the services we provide. Honestly, treatment from a pediatric dentist is going to be better for your child in the long run especially in terms of their experience. They are more likely to feel safe and welcomed at our offices, and our employees are trained to help acclimate our young patients that may be scared or unsure.

Much of what dentistry for children accomplishes is preventative care. This means not just bi-annual cleanings, but teaching proper hygiene and catching decay early, if there is any. When there is decay in baby teeth, there is a chance that the adult teeth that replace it can have issues as well. Oral health and the functions in rest of the body are directly correlated.

For infants especially, it is highly possible for childhood caries to emerge; also known as Baby Bottle Syndrome. This more or less is a cavity caused by habitually leaving a bottle in a child’s mouth for too long or the repeat use of a pacifier dipped in a sugary substance like juice. Oftentimes when a child falls asleep with a bottle in their mouth repeatedly (and they already have one or more teeth), plaque from sugar in juice or formula can begin to accumulate on the teeth. Baby Bottle syndrome commonly affects the front top teeth, as this is where the bottle or pacifier sits.

Even when a child is first born, wiping in the inside of their mouths gently with a clean washcloth can help eliminate bacteria. As soon as the first tooth erupts, start brushing that tooth with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste that is safe for infants. Practice doing this daily until the child is able to do it themselves.
The mouth is full of germs, and from the time teeth are present and onward, decay can occur. If decay occurs and goes untreated, this can result in pain and infection. When one or several baby teeth are rotten, this can affect the growth of the adult tooth indefinitely, even if it is removed early. This is because the 

spaces created by baby teeth create a sort of pathway for adult teeth to grow into. Primary teeth merely act as a placeholder for adult teeth, and are of course necessary for speaking, eating, and smiling. When baby teeth are removed prematurely, adult teeth of course will still grow in, but oftentimes they are not as straight and it can sometimes be a longer and painful process than usual.

If your child has teeth and has not yet seen a dentist, don’t panic! We’re here to help. The first appointment is mostly to educate parents and to inform them of their child’s development and needs. Preventative dental care is very important and can help eliminate so many problems down the line that have the potential to be not just painful for your child, but also expensive and time-consuming. Give us a call and we would be thrilled to help you and your family begin healthy, long-lasting smiles for your kids!

The True Cost of Not Flossing
The True Cost of Not Flossing

“How young is too young to start flossing?”

“How long can I go without flossing?”

“How long has it been since I last flossed?”

“How can I trust my child to floss regularly without them hacking into their gums?”

The truth is, whether your child is under a year or in their preteens, dental health and questions about oral care can often sit on the back burner. These are questions you may not find yourself asking because physical health and mental growth can seem so much more pressing.

What most of us do not realize is that our dental health actually has a significant impact on our overall health. A truly healthy body does not coexist with a mouth that is decayed and infected.

So what’s the big deal about flossing?

Regardless of age, flossing is incredibly important because it cleans areas of your teeth a traditional toothbrush does not. The crevices between our teeth can store the most bacteria out of anywhere else in our mouth and can cause gum sensitivity and infection. In fact, the Academy of General Dentistry says that flossing is the most important weapon against plaque.

Did you know that if you never floss, you’re only cleaning two thirds of your teeth? Imagine going months or even years only cleaning certain parts of your body. Everybody would really start to notice after a while!

You (or your kids) may retort: “I don’t have time to floss every single day.” That’s okay! While once daily is of course a good idea, dentists everywhere would agree that flossing as little as twice a week is better than not doing it at all.

Toddlers especially do not need to worry about flossing until their teeth begin to touch. When this happens, teach them how to hold the floss (between both hands, wrapped around their pointer and middle finger), and go in between the teeth gently. Once there, be sure to go over the edges of the teeth where it arches into the gums. You may have to do this until your child has developed the strength in their hands to do it on their own.

– To prevent bleeding, be sure to floss regularly and not cram floss through the teeth quickly, especially if it tends to get stuck. If waxed floss seems too thick, instead use dental tape. It is smoother and thinner.

– Unwaxed floss is rougher and will squeak when the tooth is cleaned. It may be more challenging for kids.

– Pre-measured, disposable flossers are great for a once-over but do not work well for people with bridgework.  

– Waterpicks are not an alternative to flossing as they simply loosen debris (which is why they are excellent for individuals with braces, dentures, and those recovering from wisdom teeth removal). 

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is a condition that develops when gums do not have proper exposure to a proper cleaning. If you or your child flosses rarely or not at all, gums will become sensitive, bleed, and can even develop infections. While gingivitis is fairly common and can be cured very easily (flossing more), if action is not taken, eventually it can spiral into periodontitis, or gum disease; which is the root of many heart and lung conditions that can actually be fatal. It may take years of neglect to get to this point, it is still something to be aware of — and it says a LOT of how important cleaning in those hard-to-reach places can actually be!

Preparing Your Child for their First Dentist Experience
Preparing Your Child for their First Dentist Experience

Do you have a child under the age of twelve months?

Dental experts say that a child should have their first dental appointment by the time they receive their first tooth or before their first birthday; whichever comes sooner.

You may ask yourself, where should I take them? Will my current primary dentist be a good fit for someone so young?

While there is nothing wrong necessarily with your child seeing your dentist, pediatric dentists come highly recommended. Not only because they are geared more towards a child’s needs but also because they complete two or more years of schooling than a standard practitioner for adults.

Pediatric dentists know not only the inner and outer complexities of a growing mouth, but are also equipped to balance the challenges that come with having an inexperienced and possibly terrified human sitting in their chair.

Despite a pediatric dentist’s trained expertise, children can often be traumatized by the initial experience if they are not used to their mouth being touched, or if their first visit requires treatment that might cause pain. This first visit can set the tone for the rest of their life as to oral care and how they view their bi-annual visits.

To avoid both prospects, we’ve compiled a list of ideas for you as a parent to prepare your child to be dentist ready.

Having someone else touch the inside of your mouth can feel very invasive if you’ve never experienced it before. To eliminate the nervousness and uncertainty of this sensation, have a “pretend visit” with your child. Lay them down on the couch or recline in a chair and ask them to open wide. Take the opposite end of a toothbrush and use it to count and touch each tooth. This is helpful especially if your child has missed the one year mark and is a little older – then they are able to understand what is going on.

Zhne putzenThere are also ways your dentist can help normalize the first experience. One idea is letting your child stand over you while the dentist pokes around in your mouth for a few minutes – this shows them there is no pain and there is nothing to fear. Another idea is having your child sit on your lap or lay on their back on you if they need additional comfort during the check-up or procedure.
Until this first dental visit rolls around on your calendar, there are plenty of just standard care practices at that will not only reduce the chances of early decay but get your child comfortable with their mouth. Here’s the list from Parents Magazine:

1. Stop sucking habits as early as possible.

2. Choose a soft and kid-friendly brushUse only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Too much or too little can be damaging in the long-term.

3. If your child is under 8, help them brush after breakfast and before dinner each day. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry says children do not have the full and proper dexterity to brush their own teeth until age 8.

4. Avoid too much sugary drinks and snacks.

These steps and more can make sure your child is dentist-ready, and prepare them for a lifetime of oral health. If you have any further questions, you can always call our office at: 509-252-4746

 

Maintaining Healthy Habits On Summer Vacation
Maintaining Healthy Habits On Summer Vacation

Oh, to be a child in the summertime! It can be sometimes the most fun and carefree time of the year. The hours stretch out into days of leisure playing outside, inside playing games, or visiting friends. No teachers, no homework, no kid responsibilities – save maybe a few chores!

This can affect children a number of ways. Some enjoy it, but others can require more mental stimulation and become bored out of their minds. Gender, age, personality, and region can all play as variables into how a sudden loss of “structure” for three months can manifest.

Nowadays, many children turn to screens. Some may go over to friends’ houses more frequently; or maybe your house will be the one that’s constantly hosting play dates. Either way, lack of structure can be fun and more freeing, but it can also cause kids to slack in taking care of themselves.

When children are in school, they are typically eating at least one balanced meal a day, eating at specific times to fit around school, and going to bed and waking up around the same times. This routine can become so ingrained in their systems that remembering to brush teeth before bed or floss in the morning becomes second nature.

But in the summer time – especially being at friend’s houses, staying up later, and eating at home for most meals of the day, many of these habits easily fly out the window.

CBS News commented on the differences of habits during this time of year, and tested 6,400 children grades 1-12 and found this:

“Kids watched an average of 20 more minutes of television per day over the summer than during the school year and consumed about three more ounces of sugary drinks. Overall, exercise levels remained about the same throughout the year, with barely five more minutes a day of activity during vacation, though high school students were significantly more active in the summer. However, they still didn’t meet standard government recommendations. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says children and teens should get at least 60 minutes a day of physical activity.”
Gaming kids
Ultimately, none of these statistics are innately life-threatening! However, we recognize parents’ frustrations with their children’s reactions to little to no structure. One parent comments:

“At some point, the kids always whine that there’s nothing to do, and honestly, at some point I can’t think of anything more,” she says. “There’s only so many times we can go to the pool or the Y for classes. I’m used to them being at school for six, seven hours a day now — and using that time to do my own work. So when summer comes, there’s suddenly many more hours to fill.”

It’s also worth noting that kids spend significantly less time outside these days. Although it depends on the community you live in, many parents do not feel comfortable with letting their children roam free unsupervised even in “safe” neighborhoods.

“Back in my day, we would just go outside all day and play in the neighborhood from morning to dinnertime,” she says. “We’d play sports, games, occasionally get a ride to the community pool or water park. Go to a park, or just hang out at someone’s house, watching TV or playing Nintendo.”

More couch time can mean more snacking, and unhealthy snacking (especially sweets!) can lead to cavities.

Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re one of those parents counting down the days until September.


1. Plan Ahead

Obviously don’t feel like you have to go super crazy – but if it is within your time and resources, plan day trips to take your children to explore maybe parts of town or surrounding areas they’ve never seen. Try going to a different park or visiting a relative that lives a little ways outside town that they don’t always see. Simply making plans in advance – even at the most base-level – forces the family to organize other tasks and down time around these events. Even just having one thing scheduled for the day can bring a little bit of structure back.
Three girls playing in park while holding hands
2. Try to Keep Bedtime Regular

We get it – kids stay up later and sleep in when they have no school. It makes perfect sense! This doesn’t have to be chaotic, though. If their bedtime is traditionally 8pm but they like to stay up late, make it 10 instead and enforce the evening routine around it. This means that kids are still brushing their teeth, changing into pj’s, etc, around a specific time, but they aren’t feeling forced to conform to their school sleep schedule. Maintaining the bedtime habits can also save you the trouble of having to re-establish them entirely come Fall.

3. Recognize that Down-Time Is Important

Rest is so crucial for brain development, rejuvenation, and even creativity. While it may seem like defeat when the television is on more frequently, these restful and mindless practices can actually be healthy and beneficial to a growing mind – in moderation, of course. It’s when it becomes too much that it is detrimental. After an hour or so, have your children take a break from screens. The truth is that even if your calendar is empty, limiting screen-time can force your children to come up with ideas of how to spend their time all by themselves. Boredom can be destructive when there are no other options, but when options are open it forces a child to make their own choices of how to spend their time, which is very important! For some ideas on cheap and easy crafts, check out our latest article: http://thekiddsplace.com/five-simple-cheap-kid-friendly-crafts-to-make-this-summer/

Sources:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/kids-unhealthy-behavior-diet-exercise-tv-summer/

http://2machines.com/188407/

Thumb-Sucking: Is it Really A Big Deal?
Thumb-Sucking: Is it Really A Big Deal?

If you have ever seen a young child sucking their thumb, there is a chance it began around the time they were weaned off of a pacifier. When newborns begin breastfeeding, the act of sucking is associated with being calmed down and receiving nutrients. The motion actually releases endorphins in the brain, which alone can be addictive. This is why babies and toddlers use binkies to self-soothe, especially if they are anxious or have trouble sleeping.

Therefore sometimes for comfort, children will suck their thumbs after their pacifier has been taken away, even if it’s just in their sleep (often they will have been aware of not doing it in public and so they only resort to it only at night).

rihanna22

Fact: Rihanna, the famous pop artist, still sucked her thumb at age 23

The issue is that sometimes these habits can take several years to break – it is not unheard of that a thumb-sucker can continue up into their teens! This can cause multiple jaw issues later in life, as the teeth will rarely line up. Many require oral surgery; and not just for cosmetic reasons. This is because the thumb rests on the lower teeth forcing them in along with the sucking motion, and causes the upper teeth to grow forward because of the thumb being sucked to the roof of the mouth. Therefore, it creates a huge gap between the upper and the lower; often referred to as an “open bite”. If the addiction is even more severe, it can cause even skeletal damage.

How Do You Stop It?

1. Whenever you notice your child has not sucked their thumb in a while, be sure to point it out to them and praise them for it.

2. The next time you are at the dentist, have them explain to your child the medical reasons they should not suck their thumb and what could happen if they continue to.

3. There is a bitter liquid medication that can be prescribed by a pediatrician that is used to coat your child’s thumb so that it is gross to the taste.

4. If none of the above work, in a worse case scenario, secure socks over your child’s hands at night so they will not even be able to suck their thumb subconsciously.

Thumb-sucking is a very normal and comforting mechanism for kids, but if not stopped early can easily carry on into elementary age, and, with very few, into teens and adulthood. Most kids automatically give it up before age 4 or 5, and by this time it should have no permanent affect on adult teeth. If your child is older and still struggles with not sucking, ask your doctor or pediatric dentist how much it might be affecting their mouth development and what measures can be taken for them to stop.

What’s Living on Your Toothbrush?
What’s Living on Your Toothbrush?

Did you know that there can be as much bacteria in an unbrushed mouth as there are on a bathroom floor? Toothbrushes can be a breeding grounds for all kinds of germs and yet it is something we use in our mouths every day!

They can contain often harmful viruses and pathogens; and because most infections and sicknesses are transferred through the mouth, why wouldn’t you want to have it as clean as possible?

While there is no way to have a completely bacteria-free brush, there are precautions you can take to making sure nothing is being spread around, especially if you have a big family where sickness can easily bounce from person to person.

There are more than just sanitary reasons in play. When the bristles on a toothbrush begin to bend outward, it is rendered by dental professionals to be ineffective. This is prone to happen after a few months of frequent use. As the bristles lose their suppleness, getting plaque and other bacteria off of teeth becomes more difficult. You want firm, flexible, and straight so that the toothbrush can do its job properly.

Here are some habits you and your family can develop to ensure happy, healthy, and clean mouths for all.

  1.   Replace your toothbrush at least every 3 months

A great way to remember to do this is to pick up a variety pack every few months on one of your big grocery shops. If this seems too expensive for a big household, Dollar Stores all over the U.S. have packs of two or more for sale. This means if you have 5 people in your household and you replace their brushes 4 times a year, it is well under $20 dollars to keep them regularly changed! Twenty dollars a year averages out to just under two dollars a month.

  1.   Keep it Away from the Toilet

Charles Gerba, Ph.D., Professor at the University of Arizona College of Public Health, Microbiology & Environmental Sciences, remarks that after a toilet has been flushed in a restroom, the spray from the force of the flush settles on all surrounding objects. This means that fecal matter is living on most toothbrushes left out in the bathroom (can I get a big “EEEEEWWWW”?!).

This can be easily remedied, by keeping brushes at least three meters from the toilet’s surface and also by closing the lid before flushing (especially with #2!)
While it might seem easier to keep the brushes in a sealed container, this can actually cause mold to grow and bacteria to spread more than in open air.

  1.  Don’t Share Brushes

It may seem like a no-brainer, but even if you are comfortable sharing drinks with family members, toothbrushes are drastically different! Instead of simply putting your mouth on something, think of it as sharing a device that is designed to scrape all of that bacteria out!

Contrary to popular belief, toothbrushes are not benefitted by being put in the microwave or dishwasher for cleaning. Not only is it not as effective as it seems but it can actually cause damage to the brush, causing you to have to replace it sooner.