Flossing. The best way to remove plaque from below the gums and between the teeth is by flossing properly once a day. Start flossing your child’s teeth as soon as they touch each other. As with brushing, you will have to help flossing until the child is old enough to manage it alone.
Diet. Healthwise gives some tips to add to your daily routine:
- Avoid high-sugar foods, especially sticky, sweet foods like taffy and raisins. The longer sugar stays in touch with your teeth, the more damage it will do.
- Brush after between-meals snacks.
- Don’t snack before bedtime. Food is more likely to cause cavities at night because saliva doesn’t clean the mouth as well at night.
- Mozzarella and other cheeses, peanuts, yogurt, milk, and sugar-free chewing gum (especially gum that contains xylitol) are good for your teeth. They help clear the mouth of harmful sugars and reduce plaque formation.
Dental Checkups. Most people who do not have serious problems with their teeth need to visit the dentist twice a year. During a dental checkup the dentist will examine your teeth and gums for signs of tooth decay and gum disease. X-rays of your teeth are usually taken once a year. If you don’t have any active tooth decay or gum disease, changes in your brushing and flossing habits probably won’t be necessary.
A dentist or dental hygienist will clean your teeth. He or she will scrape hard mineral buildup (tartar) off your teeth with a small metal tool; floss your teeth thoroughly; and use a polishing compound to help clean and polish your teeth. Cleanings may be uncomfortable but usually aren’t painful. Other procedures (application of sealants to prevent cavities or fluoride treatments) may be done during a routine office visit if needed.
The Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that your child see a dentist either by one year of age or within six months after his or her first tooth comes in.
(Taking safety precautions at home, when on the move and at work, will be discussed in Part 14, next Monday, 24 June 2013. – J.P.)