Family Dental Tips

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How much toothpaste is enough?

How Much Toothpaste to Use

“Your teeth are going to become black and fall out of you mouth by your thirteenth birthday!”

Between your mom's doomsday warnings about what will befall your mouth should you fail to brush often enough, your dentist's nagging that you don't floss enough, and TV's barrage of advertisements promoting the importance of dazzlingly, blindingly white teeth, kids can get pretty scared of what might happen to their teeth, and many start overcompensating by putting huge mounds of toothpaste on their brushes. After all, more toothpaste must mean cleaner teeth, right?

Wrong. According to the American Dental Association, a child needs only a small amount of toothpaste for brushing, the equivalent of the size of their pinky finger's nail, while adults need a thin layer just long enough to cover the length of the bristles, and not a pile. An integral part of your family dental plan should not be to simply have your kids brush more, but to brush correctly.

What is baby bottle tooth decay?

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Think that just by having your infant avoid sweets and by making sure they're adequately covered by your family dental plan that their teeth are in the clear? Not so!

Baby bottle tooth decay is the only severe dental disease common in children less than three years of age. It is caused by leaving a milk or juice bottle in your baby's mouth after they have gone to sleep. Tooth decay is caused by the interaction of bacteria and carbohydrates to produce acid, which breaks down tooth enamel. Normally, saliva helps digest sugars and other carbohydrates before the bacteria can get to much of it, but saliva production decreases significantly after sleeping, leaving your baby's teeth more vulnerable to a few drips of milk or juice sitting in their mouth.

By removing the bottle from your baby's mouth after nap time has started or, even better, by finishing a bottle before nap time, you can significantly reduce the risk of baby bottle tooth decay for your infant.

Can improving my child’s diet really help prevent tooth decay?

Tooth Decay in Minors

Tooth decay is the most chronic disease amount children aged 5-17 in America. With 59% of kids in that age group affected, is your family dental insurance up to the challenging of protecting your kids?

Fortunately, there are many things you can do to lessen the chance that you'll need to have your kids in for fillings. First is to have them brush after every meal, or at least 2-3 times daily, and floss before bedtime.

In addition, adjusting their diet can also improve their teeth, as well as their overall health. If your children love soda, try having them drink the carbonated beverages only at meals and out of a straw if possible, as both adjustments will limit the damage that soda can inflict on their teeth. Eliminating sugary foods, and in particular sticky and gummy candies, can also ensure better dental health.

Making these dietary changes will not only help ensure that your kids will have healthy teeth, they will also be much less likely to be overweight.

Can poor treatment of a child’s baby teeth lead to less healthy adult teeth?

Baby Teeth are Important, Too

What happens to your baby's teeth won't affect their adult teeth, right? Think again! It's a common misconception that a child gets a fresh start when his or her used baby teeth fall out in favor of shiny, new, adult teeth. Unfortunately, that is not the case, and bad dental habits practiced early on can affect a child well into adulthood.

Poor dental habits with your baby can lead to childhood periodontal disease, in which bacteria invade gums and ligaments that support teeth. Left unchecked, periodontal disease can cause teeth to fall out prematurely and tooth socket bones to erode. This could potentially lead to serious problems for permanent teeth when they eventually come to replace the ailing baby teeth.

To avoid putting your baby's future adult teeth in jeopardy, make sure you clean your infant's teeth twice daily until he or she is ready to brush without your help. Also, a child should see a pediatric dentist regularly as soon as teething begins, so make sure you have a good family dental plan before this becomes an issue.

Is rinsing with Listerine really as effective as flossing?

The Mouth Wash Myth

Think you've outsmarted your aging dentist by using some fancy mouth wash in lieu of flossing? Well, he'll certainly have a good laugh over your weak gums and eroded teeth the next time he sees you!

Contrary to common myth, mouth washes do not wash your mouth and certainly do not help create stronger gums like flossing does. Although many, such as Listerine, do help break down plaque, studies have shown that rinsing with plain tap water can be almost as effective.

Even if you and your kids really hate flossing, your best family dental plan is to stick with the tried and true brush and floss combination, supplementing it with dental rinses as recommended by your family dentist.

Is teething really the nightmare that I’m told it is?

Teething Myths

For almost a century dentists and doctors have blamed a nearly endless list of childhood ailments on teething, including fever, irritability, red cheeks, drooling, diarrhea, feeding problems, and others.

In reality, while teething does cause some discomfort and pain in an infant's mouth, it has no serious accompanying symptoms. If your child has a fever, it's not the teething that's causing the heat, but an actual illness that should be checked out by a doctor if it is a "high-grade" fever.

The only potentially serious side-effect of teething is on your wallet. In addition to the much wider variety and quantity of foods your rapidly growing kid will consume, fixing anything that goes wrong with his or her teeth can be very expensive. So even before your child starts producing vicious gnashers, you should make sure that your family dental coverage allows your child to see a pediatric dentist. If not, you should consider getting some supplemental insurance to protect the teeth that your baby went through the mild discomfort to grow.

Does pregnancy affect my teeth?

Pregnancy and Plaque

Worried that your growing fetus is going to sap all of your nutrients? It's a common myth that they seep all of your calcium, leaving you with hardly enough to keep your pearly whites strong enough to chew mashed potatoes.

Fortunately, your teeth won't suffer from any lack of calcium during your pregnancy, but you may experience an increase in the amount of plaque on your teeth caused by your raging, pregnant hormones. Thus it is even more important to brush your teeth at least twice daily and floss daily during your pregnancy.

You should talk to your dentist as early as possible in the first trimester to assess the condition of your oral health, as well as to come up with a dental health plan for the duration of your pregnancy. If your family does not have a family dental plan, this is an important time to consider getting one, both for you and for your child.

Are there dentists who specialize in infants and toddlers?

Pediatric Dentistry

You have a great dentist who can crack a dirty joke with the best of them, but you're a little weary about bringing your toddler to him.

Actually, you shouldn't be bringing your child to just any dentist in the first place. Pediatric dentists have received an additional two years of training to acquaint themselves with the complicated topics regarding tooth development. These more specialized dentists won't even tax your wallet more than normal dentists, as just about any family dental plan will have some pediatric dentists listed in your area that will cost you no more than a normal dentist would.

When you're looking around for dentist for your child, make sure you get a pediatric dentist with the experience and specialized knowledge your child deserves.

When should I find a dentist for my baby?

When To Take Your Baby to the Dentist

It is never too early to have your baby's teeth checked out by a dentist. While most babies start teething between five and seven months of age, babies can teeth as early as one month old and even later than one and half years old!

Regardless of how long it takes your child to go through the painful process of producing fierce, baby chompers, the earlier you take him or her to a dentist, the sooner you'll know of any potentially bad conditions that may benefit from early treatment.

Be prepared for these inevitable dentist visits and the associated costs by making sure that you have a family dental plan. If your employer does not cover your child, then you should shop around for an inexpensive dental plan on your own.

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Patricia Walters-Fischer