Kids’ dental health: Myth busting with a cavity buster

A good rule of thumb is that a child needs to be able to tie their own shoes before they should begin to brush without help. It is important that each surface of every individual tooth receives attention. Be sure to help your child brush all of their teeth. METRO NEWS SERVICE PHOTO
A good rule of thumb is that a child needs to be able to tie their own shoes before they should begin to brush without help. It is important that each surface of every individual tooth receives attention. Be sure to help your child brush all of their teeth. METRO NEWS SERVICE PHOTO

I’m a general dentist at the 88th Dental Squadron. While I spend most of my days at Wright-Patterson Medical Center busting cavities and treating other dental diseases, I would like to bust some myths with you today.

By busting some common dental myths together, we can learn a bit more about how to best protect and care for our children’s teeth.

Myth #1: ‘Baby teeth are not important because they just fall out anyways’

False! Baby teeth are actually very important and play a significant role. Baby teeth help your child eat, speak and smile. They also hold space to lessen possible crowding of adult teeth and guide the adult teeth into place.

Neglecting to take proper care of baby teeth can lead to dangerous and sometimes life-threatening infections. An infection in a baby tooth can also affect the health of the adult tooth coming in underneath it.

Myth #2: ‘My child’s teeth look fine and they are not complaining, so they do not need to go to the dentist’

Just like adults, all children need regular dental checkups every six to 12 months. We recommend taking your baby for their first dental checkup as soon as they get their first tooth, or no later than their first birthday.

Creating a strong foundation of oral health for your child can set them up for dental and physical health for years to come.

Myth #3: ‘My child is capable of brushing their teeth all on their own’

Not so fast! Having a child eager to take care of their own teeth is great, but do not be so quick to think they are able to get into all the nooks and crannies by themselves.

Just because a child can stick a toothbrush in their mouth and make a brushing motion does not mean the teeth are getting a proper cleaning. It’s common for kids to just brush their front teeth, as these are the teeth they can see, while they tend to ignore those in the back of their mouth.

A good rule of thumb is that a child needs to be able to tie their own shoes before they should begin to brush without help. It is important that each surface of every individual tooth receives attention. Be sure to help your child brush all of their teeth, including the chewing surfaces, as well as the sides close to the gum.

Remember, we do not want to scrub our teeth hard – just use a small, circular, massaging motion.

For children 4 and younger, use a rice-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. For children older than 4, use a pea-sized amount.

Myth #4: ‘I do not let my child eat candy, so I am not worried about cavities’

While simple sugars like sucrose are major culprits for cavities, the other major culprit is carbohydrates.

Whenever we eat sugars or carbs, whether that be a lollipop or potato chips, the bacteria that live in our mouths take a portion for themselves and produce an acidic byproduct. This acid then attacks our teeth, causing cavities.

One way to modify our diet is to change the frequency in which we’re eating sugars and carbs. It is best to eat these with a meal, rather than sipping or snacking throughout the day, which has a negative impact over time.

When your child wants a snack, try to stick to fruits and vegetables and stray away from sweets, chips, crackers and other sticky foods. Cheese or nuts can also make for a delightful, low-cavity risk snack.

Myth #5: ‘Juice is a healthy alternative to soda’

As far as cavities are concerned, juice is not much safer than soda. Especially for young children, sipping on juice can lead to mayhem in the mouth.

Children under 6 should be limited to no more than 6 ounces of juice per day, and only as part of a meal or snack, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that no child be put to sleep with a bottle or sippy cup containing anything other than water. Water is always the best bet to protect your child’s teeth.

I hope you enjoyed busting these myths with me today. If you should have any questions about how to best care for your child’s teeth, reach out to us at the Wright-Patterson Dental Clinic: 937-257-8761.

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