A healthy diet is essential for a child’s growth and development. Like the rest of the body, the teeth, bones, and soft tissues of the mouth need a well-balanced diet. Children should eat a variety of foods from the five major food groups in line with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (choosemyplate.gov). These foods include fruits and vegetables; breads, cereals, and other grain products; milk, cheese, and yogurt; meat, poultry, fish, and alternates such as dry beans, peas, eggs, and nuts.
Oral Hygiene Care
Here are some tips for helping your child care for his or her teeth.
- Start with a pea-sized amount of flouride-free toothpaste.
- Choose a flavored toothpaste or an egg timer to encourage your child to brush at least two minutes.
- Once your child can expectorate (spit out) all of the toothpaste, use a fluoride toothpaste to help prevent cavities and make teeth stronger.
- Choose soft, rounded bristles to protect gums.
- Choose a brush with rippled bristles, which better fit the shape of your child’s teeth.
- Change your child’s toothbrush every three months or whenever it appears worn.
- Choose the appropriate stage of toothbrush, based on your child’s age.
- Brush twice a day — morning and night.
- Consider brushing you toddler while laying down.
- Start brushing at the appearance of the first tooth.
- Hold toothbrush at an angle, and move back and forth with short strokes — about half a tooth wide.
- Brush inside each tooth, top and bottom and the gumline. And, don’t forget to gently brush your tongue to make your mouth really fresh.
- Make sure you floss at least daily.
- You may start flossing once there are contacts between teeth (when teeth touch each other), for example, between back baby molars.
- Use a gentle back and forth motion to guide the floss between your child’s teeth.
- Explain why teeth are important, and set a good example; be a role model!
Fluoride (“Tooth Vitamins”)
Fluoride is a natural mineral found throughout the earth’s crust and widely distributed in nature. Some foods and water supplies contain fluoride. Fluoride is often added to drinking water to help reduce tooth decay.
Fluoride has substantial benefits in the prevention of tooth decay. Numerous studies clearly establish that fluoride aids in the prevention of dental decay. Dental decay is reduced by fluoridated toothpaste, mouth rinses, and professional care.
Too little fluoride causes weakening of the enamel on teeth, making it easier for teeth to decay. Too much fluoride can result in Fluorosis, which can cause white or brown splotchy patches on teeth.
Fluoride varnish contains a smaller quantity of fluoride compared to fluoride gels; therefore, its use reduces the risk of inadvertent ingestion in children younger than six years.
Dr. Klein suggests you brush the teeth of children over age two with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, and make sure to floss daily. Look for toothpastes that carry the ADA Seal of Acceptance. They have been evaluated by the ADA for safety and effectiveness.
Dental sealants are plastic coatings or barriers that protect back teeth from cavities. Sealants can be applied to the chewing surfaces (grooves) of your back teeth (6 and 12 year molars and other at risk teeth) where decay most often occurs. Applying a sealant to your child’s teeth can prevent cavities, as well as the need for fillings.
Your child’s mouth is small, and there is a lot of development going on in that tiny space. Sometimes, your child’s oral supportive structures need a helping hand in providing enough space for a healthy smile. Thankfully, Dr. Klein has many treatment and therapy options designed to manage the growth and development of your child’s teeth, gums, and other oral structures. Your child’s initial evaluation will include an assessment of these structures, as well as any recommendations for addressing problem areas.
Thumb sucking, finger biting, nail-biting, and tongue thrusting…these are just a few examples of habits that can cause problems with your child’s dental development. However, many habits can be addressed with properly administered dental appliances. If your child is showing signs of these types of habits, ask Dr. Klein to look into the behavior for help in determining the right solution.
Many instances of childhood dental injuries are preventable! Protect your child’s teeth with a sportsguard.
Dental injuries are possible in many sports — even low contact sports. The teeth, jaw, and other oral structures can be injured through accidental collision with the ball or with another player, or your child may clench, chip, or crack their teeth on their own during play. A sportsguard prevents such injury. And, sportsguards are not just for children with braces or other orthodontics. Every parent should fit their child for a sportsguard to protect their child’s precious smile for life!
It is important to ask Dr. Klein to customize a sportsguard for your child, rather than buying a generic, “boil and bite” mouthguard. Dr. Klein can ensure better protection and a proper fit for your child’s developing smile.