Please feel free to ask Dr. Nolan, Dr. Schoonmaker or your hygienist if you have any questions on how to brush and floss properly.
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A good diet is essential for children's proper growth and development. Various factors play a role in how diet affects teeth. The main factors include: 1) Carbohydrate content: Good carbohydrates vs. bad carbohydrates, such as refined sugars. 2) Consistency of the food: “Sticky” foods such as taffy and cookies stay on teeth longer then a liquid, such as milk. 3) Frequency: The more frequently a snack is eaten, the greater the chance of a cavity forming. For example, five Tootsie Rolls all at once is better for your teeth (or, more accurately, not as bad for your teeth) than five Tootsie Rolls eaten one per hour. 4) Healthy food: Some foods deemed healthy may cause decay. For example, fruits, bread, and fruit juices all have carbohydrates and sugars. If you don’t brush your teeth after eating these otherwise healthy foods, tooth decay may occur.
Your child’s teeth should be brushed at least twice a day, but ideally after every meal. The perfect toothbrush has a small head with soft, rounded-end bristles. It should be replaced every three months, The American Dental Association (ADA) has approved the use of electric toothbrushes stating that those with rotating or oscillating heads are more effective in some instances than other toothbrushes. Here is a basic guide to proper brushing: 1) Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle at the gumline. 2) Use small, gentle circular motions to gently brush the gums and teeth. 3) Do not apply too much pressure to the teeth, to prevent damage to the gums and tooth enamel. 4) Brush every surface of every tooth thoroughly: tongue-side, cheek-side, and chewing surfaces. 5) Use back and forth strokes to brush the chewing surfaces. 6) Always make sure to brush the tongue well. 7) Make sure that you brush your child’s teeth until they are old enough to do it themselves properly. Supervise their initial efforts to make sure they are being thorough.
Flossing is the most effective way to remove plaque from the areas between the teeth. Flossing is an especially important tool for preventing periodontal disease such as gingivitis. You should floss your child (if they are not able to do it themselves) at least once per day. The flavor and type of floss are unimportant; choose floss that will be easy and pleasant to use. Some kids find that flossers are the easiest to use. Here is a basic guide to proper flossing: 1) Cut a piece of floss to around 18 inches long. 2) Wrap each end around each middle finger until the hands are 2-3 inches apart. 3) Work the floss gently between the teeth toward the gum line. 4) Carefully move the floss up and down several times to remove plaque and debris. 5) Do not pop the floss in and out between the teeth as this will inflame and cut the gums.