Daily Oral Health

Q: My child won’t let me brush his teeth.

A: We know it is difficult to brush your child’s teeth. However, having healthy teeth and gums is important to your child’s overall health. Experience has shown us that children do not develop the necessary motor skills to brush and floss their own teeth until age 9 or 10. By assisting them when they brush and floss, you will help to establish this good habit early in life. We are happy to help you until you become comfortable with the technique.

Q: Why does my child need to floss?

A: Children are prone to cavities between their teeth; tooth brushing alone will not adequately clean these spaces, and food and bacteria can build up between those teeth. You need to help your child until age 9 or so, since flossing requires a good deal of motor coordination.

Q: Why does my child need fluoride? Isn’t fluoride dangerous? Doesn’t it mark the teeth?

A: Fluoride makes the enamel (the outermost surface of the teeth) more resistant to cavities. Fluoride is available in two forms, the kind we ingest from the water supply or tablets, and the topical kind from toothpaste, rinses and from professional applications in the dental office. It is possible to ingest too much fluoride by swallowing too many tablets or too much toothpaste when a child is young, and this can cause permanent marks on the teeth. Topical fluoride, however, needs to be repeated at regular intervals to get the maximum benefit … daily with toothpaste and rinses, and at least every 6 months in the dental office. When professionally administered, topical fluorides are not dangerous and don’t leave any permanent marks.

Q: I can’t get my hands in his/her mouth to floss.

A: There are devices to make flossing your child’s teeth easier. My staff and I are happy to demonstrate their proper usage – be sure to ask.

Q: How much and what type of toothpaste should we use?

A: Allowing your child to use a small amount (pea sized for age 3 and up) of toothpaste to provide fluoride for the teeth is good. When it’s the parent’s turn to brush, however, experience has shown us that you can brush more easily and more effectively using a wet brush only. This allows you to see the gum line better and identify any areas that might need more attention (areas that bleed). If you child is 3 years old or younger, he/she has not yet properly honed the skill of spitting; therefore we recommend a toothpaste without fluoride so as to avoid your child ingesting excessive fluoride.

Q: Is staining of the teeth hereditary? What can be done about it?

A: There are two types of staining: intrinsic staining (stains on the inside of the teeth) and extrinsic staining (stains on the outside of the teeth). Some intrinsic staining may be hereditary and can usually be treated by bonding. Extrinsic staining is caused by things we eat and is typically treated by professional dental cleaning or bleaching.