Sunday, February 20, 2011

Dental Health for Young Children #4

I hope you are winning on the side of healthy teeth by eating well and taking care of your teeth even before pregnancy, by beginning visits to the dentist early in your baby’s life, and by developing habits that will see a child through healthy baby teeth and beyond. Let’s talk today about ongoing care of the teeth of young children.
A good plan to start with is to develop the habit of brushing teeth twice a day and flossing once per day. When children have a single tooth, you can clean that little tooth with a clean damp cloth. When your baby has a few more teeth, you can introduce a soft baby tooth brush into the routine. Floss is not necessary at this time because the baby teeth are small with spaces in between. When the permanent teeth come in starting around age 6, your dental hygienist will introduce flossing to clean between the teeth where the brush no longer can reach.
Initially, until age 3, children should brush with only water. They will be swallowing the tooth paste. When they can spit it will be fun to learn to spit out the tooth paste. Use a pea size amount of toothpaste on the brush for a preschooler. Monitor tooth brushing for the next three or four years. It is too easy to for our kiddos to say they’ve brushed their teeth when in reality, they had a toothbrush in their mouth for only 10 seconds. All the teeth need brushing and flossing.
I do apologize for being repetitious on this next point, (I believe I say this every year!) but it made a huge impact on me and why I always floss my teeth. You don’t have to floss all your teeth, just floss the ones you want to keep! This short sentence gives much food for thought. My grandparents and my parents had false teeth. They did not floss. (a word to the wise and to the potentially toothless!)
So in closing today’s column on brushing and flossing, I’ll repeat, You don’t have to teach your child to brush and floss all her teeth, just teach her to floss the ones you would like her to keep her entire lifetime!


Oh Mr. Cloud, Cloud, Mr. Fluffy Cloud
Please snow down on me
Oh Mr. Cloud, Cloud, Mr. Fluffy Cloud
Snow is what I want to see
These little children are asking you
To send some snow, Oh Please won’t you?

Oh Mr. Cloud, Cloud, Mr. Fluffy Cloud
Please snow down on
Please snow down on
Please snow down on me!

(tune: Oh Mr. Sun)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Dental Health for Young Children #3

Before I begin speaking with you about today’s topic, I would like to tell you about the radio version of Bringing Up Baby for this Friday. I am pleased and honored to have as my ‘call-in’ guest, Dr. Harry Ireton, from Minnesota. I met Dr. Ireton, in 1985 at a conference about young children in Denver. We spent some time talking together and I learned that he was the originator of the Child Development Inventories, screening and assessment tools that I was using in my work. We will be talking together on the Talk Line program at 8:30 on WLDY this Friday, February 18. I hope you can listen in!

Today I’d like to wage war on the overuse of sippy cups and the use of a bottle filled with milk or formula as a way of putting babies to bed. Losing this war will mean serious dental carries for your child. Winning this war will mean healthy teeth.
Let’s start with the proper use of the bottle. A bottle or breast fed baby will have the formula or milk coating his teeth when he finishes eating. When a baby goes to sleep following a feeding, the salivary glands slow down in the production of saliva that helps rinse the teeth. When the sugar or the acid in the milk or juice stays on the teeth, the tooth enamel is at risk for decay. The longer the sugar or acid is on the teeth, the more risk for decay. A great strategy is to develop a habit of wiping that first little tooth with a clean damp cloth or putting water in a new bottle for the baby to ‘rinse’ his teeth. Drinking water after using a bottle will prevent ‘bottle mouth’, a condition of extreme dental decay that is both unsightly and painful for the child.
The next culprit in the war is the ever-present sippy cup. A sippy cup is a useful tool to help transition from bottle to cup. However when toddlers are allowed to carry their sippy cup with them all day long filled with ‘healthy’ juice, the acids and natural sugars in the juice will slowly erode the enamel of their teeth –another road to the condition of serious dental carries. If you use a sippy cup, do not overuse it. It is meant to be used for a limited time while eating and drinking a beverage.
But why should we be worried about cavities in baby teeth? The teeth fall out anyway. Right? Yes, the baby teeth are destined to leave, but before they do they have a few important jobs. One job is to provide adequate spaces for the permanent teeth that come in throughout childhood. If a baby tooth is lost early due to decay, the permanent tooth does not have a placeholder and it is likely the child’s teeth will be crooked. Crooked teeth are responsible for children feeling that they are not good looking. These kiddos lack confidence because they are concerned with how poorly they look.
Another job of the important baby teeth is to provide a healthy environment for the permanent teeth to move into. If children are plagued with dental carries, their mouths are filled with the vile bacteria from decay and the permanent teeth, moving in will be moving into a dirty home ready to spread decay.


Abraham Lincoln was a man
Who helped the slaves to be free.
He wore a tall hat
And had a dark beard
Our president was he.

All around the country
People were at war
Lincoln helped to save this land
And so much more.

Tune: Pop Goes the Weasel

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Dental Health for Young Children #2

Today we are continuing our discussion on oral health for young children. What age do you think you should start taking your child to the dentist? I was surprised and yet not surprised that the age to start visits to the dentist is when the first tooth erupts or at least when the baby is a year old.
You might say, “There’s no reason to go to the dentist at that age when the baby needs no work done on their teeth!” However, there are two great reasons to start those visits early in life. One reason is to have the baby associate a visit to the dentist with something that is routine and non-threatening. You can expect to sit in the dental chair, holding your infant. The dentist will play some little mouth games with your baby, such as counting her teeth. It will be fun for both of you! Having a number of pleasant visits before any dental work may need to happen is a great strategy.
The second reason to visit the dentist before the first year is to learn about how to care for your baby’s teeth. It will be a time to ask questions about when and how to brush her teeth and what kinds of foods are good (and bad) for her teeth. Your dentist will be able to address and concerns you have. You will learn about sippy cups, the proper use of a bottle, when to expect that other teeth will come in, and the importance of baby teeth.
All in all, you and your baby will have a great experience in the dental chair and you will know you are doing the very best you can to insure beautiful, healthy teeth for your beautiful child. It is a win-win situation.
In our economy, with many of us without dental insurance, you might be worried about paying for the visit. The clinic has a sliding fee schedule so you can be sure you can afford dental care for yourself and your child.

Five little valentines were having a race
The first little valentine was frilly with lace.
The second little valentine had a funny face.
The third little valentine said, “I love you.”
The fourth one said, “I do too!”
The fifth little valentine was sly as a fox.
He ran the fastest to your valentine box.

(Use props such as valentine stick puppets for children to act out the poem.)