Little People’s Dentist: Prevent Dental Decay

Dr. David Stewart from Little People’s Dental shares way to help keep your children cavity free.

What a person does daily at home is crucial to preventing dental decay. Consistent flossing and brushing with a fluoride toothpaste can have a significant impact on the location and extent of dental decay that a person can have.

What kind of toothbrush is best?

The best toothbrushes are quality made and have soft, round-ended (polished) bristles that clean while being gentle on the gums. We do not recommend hard bristle toothbrushes. It is important to properly care for your tooth brush. Rinse them out when you are done with them and shake the excess water out of them. It is also important to put them in a place where they can dry out between uses, because continually moist tooth brushes can promote the growth of organisms that can make you sick. You can even wash a quality toothbrush in the dishwasher if desired.

When the bristles on your toothbrush are rolled back or fraying then it needs to be replaced, because it will be much less effective at removing plaque.

Spin brushes can work well also, but it is important to get the right one. I recommend one that is rechargeable, and has a small replaceable brush head. You want a small head because you want to be able to accesses the hard to reach areas of the mouth (i.e., along the gums of the front teeth–tongue and lip side, and on the back molars.)

How long should my children brush?

Brushing with a toothbrush should begin as soon as teeth erupt into the mouth. The goal of brushing is to remove plaque from the surfaces of the teeth. At an early age children start to want to brush on their own. It is important for parents to remember that although a child has a desire to brush and may be willing to brush for several minutes it does not mean that they are doing a complete cleaning of the teeth. Studies indicate that until a child is 7 to 8 years of age that do not have the dexterity to do a complete job brushing and it is not until they are 9 or 10 years of age that they can do a comprehensive job of flossing all of their teeth. We recommend that until a child is 9 or 10 years of age that a parent is actively involved in helping their child brush and floss on a regular basis. We have found that having a child lay back on the floor or end of the bed is the easiest way for a parent to help brush and floss the childs teeth, the position is similar to the positioning of a person in a dental chair for exam and cleaning and allows the best and most comfortable access for both the child and the parent.

The amount of time taken to brush is not as important as the completeness of the brushing process. The goal of brushing should be to brush all of the surfaces that can be reached by the brush. This includes not only the top chewing surface of the teeth but also the sides right along the gum line by the tongue and cheeks. The brush cannot reach between the teeth where they touch so floss will have to be used to clean this area.

When and how should I brush and floss my childs teeth?

The best times to brush are after breakfast and before bed, but most important is that the teeth are getting brushed well on a daily basis. In children under 7 years of age this means that a parent is going to have to be involved in the process. Flossing should also be done daily in anyones mouth that has teeth which are touching; because brushing alone will not be able to clean between the teeth. We recommend that a least once a day a parent lay the child back to brush and floss their teeth; and if possible we recommend that this occur right before bed so that the child can go to sleep with clean teeth.

Why is flossing important?

The two most common areas to get dental decay are on the chewing surfaces of teeth in the pits and fissures, and in-between the teeth where the toothbrush cannot get. We put sealants on teeth to fill in the pits and fissures of teeth so that you can effectively brush these areas. But the only way to get in-between the teeth is with floss. Flossing removes plaque and food in areas where the brush cannot get. So flossing is just as important as brushing for promoting dental health. Flossing should begin as soon as teeth are touching so even most small children need to have flossing done in-between their teeth. Daily flossing helps not only to reduce the likelihood of getting dental decay in-between the teeth, it also helps to promote good health of the gum tissues in-between the teeth reducing your likelihood of getting periodontal disease.

For more information of keeping your child cavity free contact Dr. Stewart at
1268 W. South Jordan Parkway, Suite 101 | South Jordan, Utah 84095 | 801-446-8007

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