Keeping your teeth clean is a full time job! Well, maybe not that much work, but it is important! Here are some dental hygiene tips and reminders for our patients:
The Importance of Floss
Don’t skimp on the floss. Use a long piece, about an arms-length, that provides enough grip to access the spaces between every tooth, front and back. Wind up most of the floss around the middle finger of one hand and the rest around the middle finger of the other. Use your thumbs and index fingers to grip the floss, and gently slide it between each tooth down to the gum line. Move the floss against the tooth in an up-and-down motion before you go on to the next area. As you move from one tooth to the next, unroll and grip a fresh section of floss to avoid transferring the plaque back on to your teeth.
If you find it difficult to use floss, don’t skip cleaning between your teeth altogether. There are other tools you can use, such as a floss holder, wooden sticks, plastic picks and small interdental brushes.
Start Healthy Habits Early
As soon as your child’s baby teeth appear, they’re at risk of cavities. Cavity-causing bacteria can be transferred to a baby’s mouth from a parent, often from using the same spoon or sharing a toothbrush. Just as cavities can distract you from work, they can make it difficult for children to pay attention in school. So look after your child’s teeth as if they’re your own. Using a soft, age-appropriate toothbrush gets them off to a healthy start. They’ll need help though, so brush your child’s teeth until you’re comfortable that he or she can brush without you. You’ll probably recognize this transition at seven or eight years of age.
When your child has two teeth touching, it’s time to introduce daily flossing. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends using a “smear” of fluoridated toothpaste for children three or younger, and then a “pea-size” amount for children ages three through six. Discuss your child’s fluoride needs with your dentist or pediatrician and prepare to take your child to see a dentist by his or her first birthday