Preventative Care

The old cliche still rings true: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We feel the importance of proper oral hygiene and preventative care for children cannot be overstated. We've included the information below as a guideline for parents. For more information, please contact us at (905) 646-5937.

How Do I Prevent Cavities?

Frequent exposure to sugar in food, whether it is naturally occurring (fruits and juices) or added to baked goods and foods such as peanut butter or ketchup, provide the food for naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth. The bacteria produce acid as a waste product of their sugary meal. This dissolves the enamel of teeth to create cavities. The more sweet things are eaten, the more acid is produced and the bigger the decay problem becomes. Establishing good snacking habits for children and following simple oral care guidelines can help avoid or minimize dental decay.

For infants: Wipe plaque from teeth and gums with a clean washcloth. By age one use an infant toothbrush and a small rice grain size amount of fluoride toothpaste. To avoid infant tooth decay, do not put your infant to bed with a bottle containing anything other than water. Milk (even breast milk), formula and fruit juice all contain sugars that promote tooth decay. Do not put juice or any sweet drink in a bottle or sippy cup. Juice (even with no added sugar) is the sweet liquid extracted from the healthy fruit and has very little nutritional value. It fills up your infant with empty calories and leaves little room for healthy meals.

For older children: Make sure your children are brushing their teeth at least twice a day. You should brush your children’s teeth for them at least once a day until they are old enough to do it themselves. Flossing is encouraged once the six year molars erupt and can be a difficult skill to learn. Parental supervision of brushing and flossing should continue until children are at least seven or eight years old. Minimize or eliminate snacks that contain sugar. Be alert for hidden sugars in processed foods that may not ‘seem sugary’, like peanut butter and granola bars. Read the labels and look for words like sucrose, fructose, dextrose, glucose or "all natural" concentrated grape or apple juice.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and Canadian Dental Association recommend children begin regular dental visits on or before their first birthday. This visit is critical to review diet, oral hygiene and fluoride intake. Most decay in children is established BEFORE age 3. Keep in mind that you are laying the foundation for a lifetime of good oral heath! Your pediatric dentist will be pleased to offer further sensible suggestions on the prevention of cavities.

What Toothpaste Should My Child Use?

The early establishment of strong brushing habits are essential to a lifetime of healthy teeth. But, children require toothpaste formulated specifically for children as adult toothpastes often contain abrasives that can damage developing teeth. When buying toothpaste for a child, make sure it has been recommended for children by the Canadian Dental Association. The CDA seal means it has been proven to be safe for children.

It’s important that children spit out toothpaste after brushing but do not rinse. Adults should place a rice grain drop of toothpaste on the brush and NOT leave the tothpaste tube available to young children. Children who swallow a lot of toothpaste may develop a mild form of fluorosis (a discoloration of permanent teeth). The use of a fluoride toothpaste is critical once primary teeth begin to erupt at 6 months, especially in the Niagara Region as there is no water fluoridation. Decay rates among Niagara Region children are very high and fluoride toothpaste can reduce decay by up to 40%.

The Importance of Nutrition to Developing Teeth

Simply put: teeth need good nutrition to develop properly. A balanced diet is the key to healthy teeth and gums. Children should have one daily serving from each of the food groups, including fruits and vegetables, breads and cereals, milk and dairy products and meat, fish and eggs.

When it comes to snacks however, the deck often seems stacked against conscientious parents. It’s a fact that the majority of snacks marketed to children today lead to tooth decay. Even foods that don’t taste sweet often end up containing hidden sugar.

When providing snacks for your child, avoid processed foods, minimize sugars and focus on healthy alternatives like plain or Sucralose sweetened yogurt, fresh vegetables or cheese. Your pediatric dentist will be happy to offer more healthy suggestions.

About Thumb Sucking and Pacifiers

Thumb sucking is natural and appears to provide infants and the very young feelings of security and relaxation. Generally thumb sucking and the use of pacifiers are only problematic if they go on for a long time. However, thumb sucking or the use of a pacifier after the eruption of teeth can cause problems with tooth alignment and the proper growth of the mouth. Most children stop these habits on their own between the ages of two and four. If you are attempting to change a thumb sucking habit, contact your pediatric dentist for advice.

Fluoride and Fluorosis

Fluoride is an element that has been shown to inhibit the loss of minerals from tooth enamel and strengthen already weakened enamel. Fluoride also inhibits the bacteria that cause cavities. Combined with a healthy diet and good oral hygiene, fluoride is a safe and powerful ally in the fight against tooth decay.

Too much fluoride however, can be detrimental to developing teeth. Preschool children with too much fluoride in their diets can develop a condition called fluorosis. Fluorosis is usually mild, with tiny, barely noticeable, white specks or streaks on the teeth. Toothpaste ingestion is the biggest risk factor for developing fluorosis. Very young children are often not able to spit out toothpaste when brushing. Parents of very young children should place a rice grain size amount of toothpaste on the brush which will not cause any harm if swallowed. Do not let young children access the toothpaste tube. It is a powerful medicine.

Fluoride supplements and fluoride rinses are also effective medications to reduce dental decay in susceptible children, but may also contribute to fluorosis. They should only be given to children on the recommendation of a pediatrician or pediatric dentist.

For more information and guidelines on the amount of fluoride appropriate for your child, please contact your pediatric dentist.