According to the American Dental Association, 4 out of 5 cavities occur in the many crevices of our molars. This can be predominant in children as they are not as experienced in cleaning their teeth.
The grooved areas are what are known as “fissures”, and since most of our predominant chewing is done by our back molars, that means bacteria, food, and plaque build-up often occur in these areas. In adult teeth, the fissures are deeper than baby molars. When particles become trapped, they can accumulate bacteria and ultimately break down a child’s enamel, forming a cavity.
Because some of these cracks are so minuscule, they may be difficult to reach by way of traditional brushing due to bristles not being thin enough or strong enough.
Sealants are a protective, clear coating that protects these fissures from decay. As adult molars begin to erupt (usually at ages 6 and 12, but the time frame can vary) these sealants can be added to a child’s tooth prevent cavities from forming. They are applied by first cleaning a tooth using a rotating brush, and then rinsed with water. The tooth is then dried, so the sealant can adhere to the surface of the tooth. Once it is placed, the substance is then dried with a special curing light which causes it to set as a hard varnish. Then viola! The tooth can now be used normally for chewing. While it is not common, adults are known to have this procedure done for preventative measures as well.
Invented in the 1970s, sealants have been known to be fairly effective. The average life span for a sealant is 5-10 years and can be re-applied if necessary. As long as the covering remains intact, it stays effective for the child and into adulthood as well. If a sealant is broken or becomes loose, it should be removed immediately by a dentist so that the procedure can be redone. Quick and painless, you cannot really go wrong with sealants!
Apple cobbler, pumpkin pie, fudge brownies – oh my!
‘Tis the season for incredible sweets and frosted delights. Statistically, the average person gains anywhere from 7-10 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas – and no wonder! Sugary treats are an integral part of holiday tradition, and not just in the United States either.
Sugar and even excess carbohydrates can cause harm to little teeth! Even if you do a good job of monitoring your child’s treat intake intake this time of year, there will be so many times exceptions are to be made. Family parties, cookie decorating with friends, and the constant aroma baked goods coming from the kitchen at grandma or auntie’s house. These various occasions take place virtually only once a year and with family members rarely visited.
Whatever the traditions in your home, and the homes of your loved ones, these are often recipes that have brought family together for generations.
Instead of bagging these traditions, you can always create new ones in the midst of them. Here are some amazing, healthy, and fun foods to make – that are no less Christmasy! These can be excellent alternatives when you are unhappy with your number on the scale or concerned about your children’s constant “sugar highs” that they can be more prone to this time of year.
(***Please note that not every option is 100% free of processed sugar. All recipes have been credited to their various authors.)
- Grinch Food Kabobs (via Clean and Scensible)
Tiny marshmallows, green grapes, thin banana slices, and strawberries, arranged on a toothpick. Be sure to cut off the top and bottom in the strawberry, and use the scraps for a fruit salad to avoid waste! Makes for a great afternoon snack, and easy to eat on the go. Can be refrigerated for later.
- Pita Tree Appetizers (via Betty Crocker)
Ingredients: 4 pita folds or pita bread roughly 6” across, pretzel sticks (halved), ½ cup of fat-free sour cream, ½ cup guacamole, 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, ¼ teaspoon garlic-pepper blend, ¼ cup diced red bell pepper.
First, be sure to toast each piece of pita bread, and then slice it into eighths. Insert pretzel sticks halfway through the bottom of each pita triangle. Mix sour cream, guacamole, parsley, garlic-pepper blend, and spread onto squares. Sprinkle the diced red peppers on top and refrigerate to store. Pita Tree Appetizers – perfect for any Christmas party!
3. Fruit Candy Canes (via Nourishing Minimalism)
Very simple, with so many variations! For a traditional looking candy cane, thinly slice strawberries and bananas at a slight angle. Keep rounded ends of each fruit and put them off to the side. Create a curved cane by alternating fruit and top each end off. Serve on a plate and enjoy!
4. Rudolph Pancakes (via Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons)
Totally straightforward! You will need pancake mix (whichever recipe you prefer), creamed whip in a can, strawberries, preferred bacon, and chocolate chips. Maple syrup optional. Create two round pancakes of different sizes and stack them as pictured. Then pour 2 ear-shaped tiny pancakes and set them to the sides of the bigger pancake. Take two full strips of bacon for the antlers, then cut a third bacon strip in half to “branch” off of the original antler. Add more if desired. For the face, spray 2 dollops of whipped cream and top it off with 2 chocolate chips to create the eyes. For the red nose, add a strawberry or raspberry at the center of the smaller pancake. Perfect for a Christmas breakfast!
5. Dipped Apple Slices (via PartyCity)
Cut green and red apples into thin slices. To prevent slices from browning, first add lemon juice. Take melted chocolate (or white chocolate) and dip each slice halfway, then set it on wax paper to cool. While chocolate is still liquid, add festive sprinkles to stick and harden. Arrange in a row or in a circle and serve!
For more ideas, visit Pinterest and be sure to swap recipes with other moms! They will definitely appreciate the ideas to go easier on the sugar this year!
So named due to the time known for starting to gain “wisdom” (late teens, early 20s), wisdom teeth are a third set of usually 4 molars that appear behind the six and twelve-year old molars. Many children begin experiencing the signs of early wisdom teeth forming, which is why at times this can be a topic of discussion and concern even at a pediatric dentist level. Thirty percent of people are born without them, and not everybody has exactly four – in rare cases, some only receive two, or three, and some even get five or six.
Most children do not have to be bothered with wisdom teeth until adulthood, but those who are ahead of the “growth curve”, (perhaps lost most of their baby teeth very early) have been known see signs of complete development as young as 14. Wisdom teeth extraction is usually performed when there is impaction, or the x-rays show the teeth coming in will be problematic. Usually the x-rays from your routine dental exam act as a good indicator of if and when an oral surgeon should be seen.
Symptoms may include but are not limited to: tightness of teeth, gum tenderness behind molars, slight jaw pain or pressure in other teeth, and of course, teeth breaking through the surface. Partial eruption is when the wisdom tooth begins to break through the gums. Thankfully, if the teeth appear to be growing in straight, then they can be extracted the same way a normal tooth would be. However if they are impacted (growing in crooked), they will begin to affect their surrounding teeth. If this remains untreated for an extended period of time it can lead to sores, then infection, and sometimes decay. That is why early wisdom teeth extraction often for preventative reasons.
Ask your child’s dentist if there is an oral surgeon he or she would recommend. They can vary in uniqueness and different methodologies. Most patients require nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and local anesthesia, but some surgeons have the qualifications and authorization to sedate patients if the procedure is deemed more severe. For those with already intense anxiety at the dentist, an oral sedative (usually Valium) may be prescribed to the patient for added comfort.
Every mouth is different and will entail maneuverings specific to the situation. The surgeon will typically meet with the patient (and in the case of a minor, their parents as well) prior to the operation to go over exactly what the plan of action is, using x-rays as a form of reference if necessary. This will allow the patient to be well-informed about pre-extraction protocol, and will also give the surgeon the benefit to know about any accommodations that they might need. Oftentimes the doctor will require a parent, loved one, or good friend to be present at the appointment to understand the methods which to look after the patient post-extraction.
After the wisdom teeth have been removed, there are certain things to expect the 24 hours following. Replace moist, clean gauze every 45 minutes over the empty tooth sockets until bleeding stops. Moist tea bags may also be effective as the natural tannic acids in tea can help the blood clot. If necessary, alternate ice packs on either side of the face in 10 minute increments to reduce swelling.
For pain, it is recommended to use Tylenol, or Ibuprofen (which is also an anti-inflammatory). It is not uncommon that heavier pain killers are prescribed by the surgeon in advance. Oftentimes antibiotics are also given to the patient if there is any pre-existing infection in the gums. Make sure solid food is not consumed the first few days. As for teeth brushing, avoid the teeth around the sutures for 24 hours and then resume brushing, but very gently.
Ask anyone who has had it, dry socket is the worst. This occurs when the scab formed over the extraction becomes dislodged; exposing the jaw and sensitive nerves. This can cause intense pain for 5 to 6 days. It can be prevented by not drinking through a straw and not swishing liquid around in the mouth. If this occurs, contact your oral health care provider.
Most individuals in their life will have to deal with their wisdom teeth at some point. With any luck, these extra molars will grow in straight and not require extraction. Some oral healthcare professionals believe in acting sooner rather than later if the need arises. The x-rays taken at your child’s regular oral check-ups will be a good indication to your dentist as to when would be a good time to see an oral surgeon – even if your child is only in their teens! Keep an eye out for those emerging little friends… and in the meantime, do not forget to floss between your back molars!
Have you ever had a canker sore? They are not fun, and can appear at the most random and inconvenient times! What is more, it can make simple tasks like eating and brushing pretty painful. Nearly everyone has experienced at least one canker sore in their lifetime, and they are definitely a pain in the mouth! Usually identified by a small, round white bump with redness and tenderness surrounding it, they are classified as small, shallow ulcers. These sores are much different than cold sores and can last up to a week.
What Causes Them?
Canker sores are not caused by any one thing, nor do they target any specific gender or age group (although they do seem to affect those between the ages of 10-20 more). Statistics say that 20% of people report having one at least once a year. So while they do not appear to be a constant occurrence, what does cause them?
Random sores appearing can usually be traced back to a small abrasion in the gums or the mouth. This can be caused by a dental instrument, accidentally biting your tongue or cheek, or brushing too hard. Sometimes these wounds are so minuscule they go unnoticed. From there the minor cut or scrape can become infected with oral bacteria which forms a sore.
Canker sores can also appear in times of emotional stress, certain hormonal changes, and even sensitivity to foods containing acid and citric acid like oranges, lemons, tomatoes, strawberries, coffee, etc, which can erode the inside of the mouth. It can also come from vitamin deficiencies in your diet, such as vitamin B, zinc, and iron.
Wait, Aren’t Cold Sores the Same Thing?
Nope! Cold sores are caused by the herpes virus and are incredibly contagious (luckily, canker sores are not). They also occur on the outside of the mouth, whereas canker sores only appear on the inside. Cold sores are commonly referred to as “fever blisters” since they usually are accompanied by illness. Prior to the cold sore developing there is usually some redness and tenderness where the outbreak will be. Children with cold sores typically experience more severe sickness than adults. They are so named “blisters” because the cluster of painful bumps that form burst after a couple of days. They can last significantly longer than a canker sore and be of course more noticeable than one too.
Natural home remedies can include swishing with mouthwash or saltwater. Both will help to disinfect and dry up the sore, speeding up the healing process. Natural aloe vera and black tea bags can both cure canker sores when applied directly.
Despite the fact that canker sores tend to almost resemble pimples, they should not be popped or poked with a needle. This can cause them to worsen or spread. If you have an outbreak of two or more canker sores at a time and they do not go away on their own and persist after a few weeks, be sure to see a doctor for a specific remedy or even prescribed medication. If continual canker sores persist, try switching to a softer bristled brush to reduce abrasions in the mouth. If you suspect the sores could be diet related, reduce the amount of acids and citric acids you consume.
Did you know that every 3 out of 4 Americans experience a form of gum disease in their lifetime? Gingivitis, the most common, is a condition that encompasses the very early stages of a more severe gum disease or periodontitis. It is most quickly recognized by bleeding when flossing or brushing. Gingivitis is the number one cause of bloody gums, and should not be ignored as it is not a “normal” thing. Perfectly treatable early on, it can lead to a more serious condition (periodontitis) if neglected.
What Causes It?
Plaque is essentially a hardened film that develops on teeth, formed by bacteria. Plaque grows wherever bacteria is not being removed; which means if you do not floss, you are not getting rid of the bacteria in between your teeth!
Did you know that a toothbrush only reaches 2/3 of our mouths? That means, if a person never flosses, one third of their mouth never gets clean! Gross!
The plaque that grows between teeth release toxins into the gums which can cause an infection to develop. The infection spreads into the gums, making them red and tender. This means if you brush a little too hard one day, or floss for the first time in awhile, it can cause an instant abrasion in the gums, causing them to bleed.
Gingivitis is very prominent in children as they are still developing healthy oral hygiene habits. They are notorious for cutting corners in their daily brushing regimen. Typically children also have more of a taste for sweets. Sugar turns to acid, acid turns to plaque, and plaque seeps into the gums, causing the infection. Children and young teens are also at risk because rapid hormone changes are known to be linked to gum disease. Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is also more common with little ones, which can worsen gingivitis and is hard on the enamel and overall teeth in general. All things to be considered; that children are constantly growing and developing and that taking care of their teeth at a young age will do them favors and save them a lot of trouble later in life.
If your kids start to see that “pink in the sink”, definitely help them out! There is a statement among experts that say children do not have the proper dexterity in their hands to brush their teeth until they can tie their shoes all by themselves. Therefore it is recommended you brush your child’s teeth for them up until the hand strength and precision is developed. Small flossers are also useful to assist you with flossing and it will also teach them to do it on their own. Flossing is probably the number one thing you can do to prevent gingivitis from happening in between the gums. Be a good role model and take care of your own mouth too. This means brushing twice daily for at least two minutes, and flossing and rinsing once daily.
If your child’s gingivitis condition is more severe, it may be a good idea to arrange for them to start going to a pediatric dentist, as they have more experience with little mouths and have 2-3 years more schooling than regular dentists. Teach them young, and take care of their teeth now so they do not have problems with their adult teeth later!
Mouth grinding is a habit that occurs during deep sleep, meaning many may be unaware that they even do it. Usually it takes a spouse or a loved one of someone that grinds their teeth to be able to notice it in the night. Also known as bruxism, this is a condition that can go unnoticed for long periods of time and is more common in children than adults.
Symptoms may include but are not limited to: tooth pain, jaw soreness or clicking, molars appearing to be worn flat, enamel wear, and headaches.
Chances are a dentist will be able to perform an examination to tell whether grinding is occurring. It is reported that over 10% of adults and 15% of children grind their teeth; yet it was not until recent years that doctors have actually discovered why.
It used to be a common misconception to link bruxism to stress or anger in the same context as we feel it during the day. Naturally, it can be a natural human response to consciously clench our teeth when we are mad or feeling intensely about something; and while this can happen while we sleep, it is found to actually be more than likely linked to what is called “obstructive sleep apnea”: a disorder that cuts off breathing for anywhere from 10-30 seconds during sleep.
How it Happens
While we sleep, we drift in and out of REM and NREM cycles. These stand for “Rapid Eye Movement” and “Non Rapid Eye Movement” which represent the depth of the levels of which the mind and body rest. As our sleep and rest deepens, all of our muscles relax completely. This includes the neck, jaw, mouth, and tongue. Now, when all of these muscles are completely slack it can actually block the opening of the trachea, closing off our airways!
To counteract this, the body is brilliantly designed to begin grinding. Why? Clenching the jaw is our body’s natural response because it tenses up muscles just enough to clear whatever is preventing air from freely passing through. When the muscles tighten, it reopens the airway!
The sudden obstruction, grinding, and then release unfortunately pulls us out of that deep sleep cycle and into the first stage of NREM (the lightest sleep), disrupting the cycle without the person perhaps even realizing it.
Despite the negativity surrounding bruxism, it is true that is could very well be preventing this form of sleep apnea and allowing air to pass through to the lungs even in the deepest sleep.
Mouth guards might seem like the best solution but in truth can actually make breathing more difficult. It would treat the symptom (teeth grinding) but it would not solve the initial problem.
Sleep apnea is often found to be more prominent in:
- People with anxiety and depression
- Children with ADHD and other learning disabilities
- Children and adults who did not breastfeed as infants for very long or at all
If your teeth grinding is becoming more of an issue, talk to your doctor about sleep apnea. When REM occurs, it is in the stages of the night where our skin and brain cells are replenished, our HGH (human growth hormone) is released, it boosts memory, and helps us burn fat. Sleep apnea disrupts this cycle which can lead to weight gain, heart disease and stroke. Children with sleep apnea were reported to struggle with hyperactivity, lack of focus, issues communicating, trouble adjusting to new environments, and in general received lower grades. Remember, just because you are getting an 8-10 hour rest does not always mean that this it is a wholesome, uninterrupted sleep. The good news is that most children outgrow their sleep apnea as well as their grinding, leaving little to no lasting damage on their teeth.
In a recent study, patients were given a CPAP machine (a treatment often used in severe cases of sleep apnea) or an oral device used to adjust placement in the mouth to make breathing easier. Not only did their sleep apnea stop, but so did the bruxism. Check for signs of your children grinding their teeth – chances are if it is a regular occurrence, they are not getting the sleep they need.
While grinding our teeth could be saving your life every night, it can have a long-term effect on one’s overall health. If you are concerned your child may have obstructive sleep apnea, or you yourself have it and you are concerned about your long-term health, talk to your doctor or pediatrician about steps you can take towards treatment. If the grinding persists and there is a legitimate concern about worn-down enamel, talk to your dentist about a safe mouth guard he or she would recommend.
By the ages 10-13 years old, most of a child’s baby teeth have fallen out. When the new ones grow in, they may not be ideally spaced or aligned. Whether they be for practical or cosmetic reasons, many adolescents and their parents choose to invest in braces for a child’s future smile. The need can be genetic, caused by inheriting bite or spacing problems. Sometimes it can be due to prolonged thumb sucking habits, poor nutrition, or decay. Depending on the severity of the need, your dentist may be able to recognize the early signs of a need for braces, the most common being:
- Irregular loss of baby teeth
- Chewing or biting difficulties
- Teeth that meet abnormally or not at all
From this point, the matter is out of the dentist’s hands and he or she may recommend your child see an orthodontist. If these signs are ignored, they can very likely cause problems later on. These could include crowded teeth, an over or underbite, and even jaw problems. The “best age” is different for every child, but it usually falls somewhere between ages 8-14. Sometimes a parent or child may choose to schedule an orthodontist appointment if they notice crookedness that may not necessarily be causing dysfunction in the mouth but they choose to correct the problem for cosmetic reasons. If this is the case, the orthodontist will be able to determine when it is best to begin the treatment, and whether or not it can wait if it is a minor correction. In some situations, teeth can shift over time as the mouth grows to a place where the problem is not as visible.
The 4 Types of Braces
Metal or Traditional Braces
These are the most commonly seen braces in teenagers and even adults. Over the years, different designs have been developed to reduce the amount of metal used, making it less bulky, less noticeable, and more comfortable sitting inside the mouth. While they still remain the most noticeable type of braces, they are the cheapest.
Designed very similarly to metal braces, but they have clear or tooth-colored brackets and even wires used to blend into the mouth. Despite this convenience, they can stain easily if not properly cared for and are more expensive than traditional braces.
Lingual braces are metal braces but in reverse. They attach to the teeth from the inside rather than the outside. While not directly visible, they can be uncomfortable and very difficult to clean. They do not function well for more severe cases of misalignment but are used for more cosmetic fixes. They are also more expensive.
Clear plastic similar to a mouth guard, but for alignment purposes. They are replaced every two weeks for gradual but smooth transitions. Again, Invisalign is not recommended for severe cases. They are nearly invisible and do not restrict any food or drink. Available to teens and adults only, they remain the most expensive braces option, as well as the longest in duration.
For whatever reason you decide to invest in a beautiful smile, do NOT ever purchase “Do It Yourself” braces online and attempt to use them! These can do lasting damage and can even cause the extraction of permanent teeth which cannot be replaced! You are much better off going to a licensed orthodontist. Most are flexible and offer convenient payment plans so that a straight and happy smile is not out of reach.
(Please note all facts have been taken from other online sources)
- Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body. (But that doesn’t mean we should use our teeth to open lids or packaging!)
- It takes 43 muscles to frown, but only 17 to smile.
- Babies in the womb start developing teeth under their gums at six weeks gestation. That’s amazing!
- 78% of Americans have had their first cavity by age 17.
- 51 million school hours and 164 work hours per year are lost because of dental related illness. It goes to show that brushing 2 minutes in the morning and 2 minutes at night can save a lot more time and money down the road!
- There is more bacteria in a human mouth than there are people on the earth.
- Kids only have 20 teeth, but adults have 32 teeth.
- It is incredibly rare, but a baby can actually be born with teeth already broken through the surface of their gums.
- On average, women smile 62 times a day, where the average man only smiles 8! Kids smile up to 400 times a day. Smiling relieves stress because it releases endorphins in your brain, which in turn can boost your immune system and prevent sickness!
- Wisdom teeth are so named because they come in when one is “older and wiser.” 35% of people are born without them!
- More people use blue toothbrushes than red ones.
- 47% of people report that the first thing they notice about someone is their smile.
- The tooth from an elephant can weigh up to six pounds!
- The tooth is the only part of the body that cannot repair itself.
- Are you left handed or right handed? Left handed people tend to chew on the left side of their mouth, while right handed people tend to chew on their right hand side
- 90% of life threatening conditions have oral related symptoms. This is why it is said that flossing regularly can extend your life expectancy up to six years!
- Just like fingerprints, no two people have the same exact set of teeth or tongue print. Even identical twins have different teeth!
- Saliva has so many purposes. If our mouths were completely dry, we would not be able to distinguish the taste of anything.
- It was common practice in the middle ages to kiss a donkey to cure a toothache.
- The first bristles on toothbrushes were said to be made from cow hairs. Good thing modern day toothbrushes have nylon brushes!
- When you choose to just brush and not floss, that means you are only cleaning two thirds of your tooth surface. Imagine if we only cleaned two thirds of our bodies! That could get pretty yucky over time!
- You produce enough saliva in your lifetime to fill 2 swimming pools – up to 25,000 quarts!
- In Italy and France, they do not have a “Toothy Fairy”, but a “Tooth Mouse.” Imagine putting a tooth under your pillow to await the Tooth Mouse!
Unfortunately, some people just don’t like going to the dentist! For children especially, just the idea of their first visit at first can be a very uncomfortable thought. Just imagining sitting in a big chair, in an unfamiliar room, having a bright light shone in their face with a stranger prodding areas of their mouth, can be frightening especially if it is a child’s first time or they have had a treatment in the past that was less-than-fun.
At the Kidds Place, our dentists and dental assistants are trained to make your child feel as comfortable and safe as possible during their visits with us. Pediatric dentistry is recommended for a growing child because oral health and overall health are directly linked during child development. A Pediatric dentist is required an extra 2-3 years of schooling specific to little teeth and little mouths that an adult dentist may not. Because regular cleanings can be so pertinent to a child’s quality of life, we set children overcoming their dentist fears at a high priority. Yet despite our efforts, we understand some children are more sensitive to new experiences than others.
It is recommended by the American Dental Association that a child have their first dentist appointment before they reach age 1 – after the first tooth emerges, but no later than their first birthday. This means that there is a chance that by the time a child is old enough to know what going to the dentist means, they may not be able to recall the experience of their first time.
When this is the case, remind them beforehand of their next visit with positivity. Try not to go into too much detail. If they ask a more specific question, say something like, “Doctor ____ is going to be cleaning your teeth!” If your child has reached toddlerhood and either does not remember their first visit, or it is their very first time, some experts even suggest going into the office prior to the appointment so the child will see a face they recognize at their next visit. If you call ahead, most offices will let you go in and meet the dentist that will be treating your child.
Another suggestion for parents to try at home is by doing a “pretend” examination. Place your child in a recliner, tell them to open wide, and count their teeth one at a time with the end of a toothbrush. It will acclimate them to the sensation of someone else touching their teeth.
The younger a child has regular visits to the dentist, the better. It provides a “dental home” and builds trust. It is stated that kids may go an average of ten times to the dentist before they even begin kindergarten. That’s a lot! That means they may see the dentist before age 6 more frequently than they see their distant relatives!
Comfort and Reassurance
If your child is still uneasy, bring along an item that is calming and familiar, like a stuffed animal, to your next appointment. (Although we’re certain that once they see the inside of the Kidd’s Place, they will get distracted by all the neat stuff we have!) If it’s your child’s first time and they need a little extra comfort, it is not unheard of that the practicing dentist will allow your child to lay on your lap while they are examined if a situation calls for it.
When speaking about the dentist, even your own personal experiences, avoid using trigger words like “hurt” and “pain”, even if you are saying to your child, “Don’t worry, it won’t hurt!” Their mind will focus on the word “hurt” which can lead to confusion and unnecessary fear. Being scared of something can be a learned behavior, and if you as a parent do not like the dentist, it is best to not taint the view your child may already have or one that is being developed in their mind. Most of the time, a child’s first few visits rarely include a treatment such as a filling or a cap, especially if they have a proper dental routine at home. If a child takes good care of their teeth, normally there is nothing of discomfort to fear at the dentist.
For any additional questions or concerns, contact our office. If you are still considering our practice, read our incredible reviews of our friendly and welcoming staff. We’re voted the best by many for calming fears and positive experiences for kids!
Mouthwash can be one of the most refreshing steps of a daily routine. It removes excess bacteria, strengthens enamel, whitens teeth, and provides instant fresh breath. Mouthwash is the step in a dental oral hygiene regimen that can provide extra protection beyond brushing and flossing. At the Kidd’s Place, we specialize in being able to recognize the different needs presented with kids’ teeth. Here are some things you need to know about your kids using mouthwash.
Fluoride is a mineral commonly used to strengthen teeth and to prevent cavities from forming. It is primarily found in toothpaste, mouthwash, and even most water systems in the U.S.! However, it is not recommended that a child uses fluoride toothpaste regularly until after age 2 (except for a small smear on their toothbrush), and mouthwash until after age 6. This is due to the risk of fluorosis.
Fluorosis is something that can happen in the process of children’s teeth developing. It occurs when there is an overexposure to fluoride. It can cause the outer texture of the tooth to become bumpy, or white or brown spots to appear on the teeth. While fluorosis only causes issues in appearance and can be easily prevented, it can be difficult to remove.
Knowing When the Time is Right
Despite mouthwash not being recommended until age 6, every child is different. That being said, age 6 is just about the time adult teeth are starting to come in and certain baby teeth are beginning to loosen. When introducing a child to mouthwash for the first time, it is most important that they have the self-control and awareness to not swallow it automatically as they would a beverage.
To know whether a child is ready to use mouthwash without swallowing, there is a simple test: using a cup of water by the sink, ask the child to swish it around in their mouth and to spit it out. If they are able to do this without swallowing, then they will most likely be able to do it with mouthwash. Make sure it is used after brushing and flossing. It is not recommended to allow children ages 6-12 use mouthwash unattended.
For additional practice, try supervising your child in the form of a game. Use a mouthwash recommended for children that does not have that strong or harsh taste. With a stopwatch in hand, say “Go!” and time your child for exactly a minute as they swish and rinse. Feel free to cheer them on and have fun with it. When it reaches a minute yell “Stop!” and have them spit. This is excellent practice that engages parents and kids and allows them to adjust to the sensation of swishing.
Mouthwash & Braces
For young teens, braces can be immensely time-consuming when cleaning. Mouthwash is an excellent tool because it can reach places that plaque can build up that is perhaps difficult to reach with floss or a toothbrush alone. It can also loosen very small bits of food that can get lodged in the braces. This does not mean flossing or brushing should ever be neglected; mouthwash is meant as an additional cleaning agent and should not be used exclusively on its own for cleaning, especially since braces present such an opportunity for bacteria and plaque to flourish.
The Long-Term Benefits of Mouthwash
For adults and kids alike, mouthwash is designed to boost the effects of brushing twice daily, and flossing once daily. Talk to your child’s dentist whether a fluoride mouthwash is something that should be introduced to his or her oral hygiene regimen. Most dentists will even have a specific brand or type they would recommend. Instilling these habits early on can ensure a lifelong healthy smile!