Establishing a lifetime of good oral health should begin as soon as a child's first tiny tooth erupts. Not only is it important for a parent to start brushing that new pearly-white, it is just as important to set up the first dental visit soon after with a reliable kids dentist in Lone Tree, CO.
While your child is young, supervising and assisting in his or her daily tooth brushing ensures cavity-free teeth. However, as children age, it's not always easy to keep those oral care habits in check. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 59 percent of adolescents aged twelve to nineteen years of age experience dental decay in their permanent teeth. Luckily, there are steps to prevent that unhealthy tooth decay before adolescence. Here are three ways to help your child enter their teen years with a happy, healthy mouth.
Combat the Causes
Sugar causes cavities, but not by itself. Plaque buildup, along with starches from foods like bread, cookies, juices, and soft drinks, create acids that eat into tooth enamel. Brushing helps combat the buildup with the help of fluoride found in toothpaste, water, and other sources. But saliva also contains its own arsenal--the minerals calcium and phosphate--that works with the fluoride to fight off those damaging acids attacking tooth enamel. Through regular brushing and by drinking fluoridated water, tooth decay can be prevented. If your child drinks only bottled water, check with your dentist to see if fluoridated tablets are an option.
Identify Mouth Breathers
Does your child breathe with his or her mouth open? Mouth breathing is a common occurrence in children, and some do it merely out of habit. However, there may be underlying physical causes for open-mouth breathing, such as large tonsils or adenoids, or a birth defect like a deviated septum. More commonly, mouth breathers may do so because of a dental issue; for example, crooked teeth. When some children sleep, their jaws and teeth may not allow the lips to close, forcing them to breathe with an open mouth. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, this type of breathing creates a dry mouth due to reduced amounts of saliva production. It's those protective minerals found in the saliva that help protect against decay. A complete dental exam can determine if your child is a mouth breather in order to deter future damage to his or her oral health.
Check Your Toothbrush
Dentists recommend a toothbrush with soft bristles, a small head, and a long handle. The soft bristles won't damage gums or scratch tooth enamel. The small head and long handle allow your child to reach the crevices on and around the teeth and gums. Check the toothbrush for fraying and replace as needed. The American Dental Association recommends you change out your child's toothbrush every three to four months, even if there is no sign of fraying. After each use, make sure your child rinses the toothbrush well. Don't cover or store the toothbrush in a container after rinsing. Allow it to air-dry in an upright position to cut back on bacterial growth. As far as the electric versus manual toothbrushes debate, studies show the benefits to oral health are the same as long as proper brushing techniques are used.
As your child matures into an adolescent, teach them the importance of a healthy mouth and teeth. Finding a trusted kids dentist in Lone Tree, CO--one that both you and your child can establish a bond with from an early age--is an important part of ensuring a lifetime of good dental health.
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