Are you like me and need to get into a better routine for brushing your children’s teeth or their teeth are going to fall out? I admit, I’m a horrible parent, I have a hard time remembering to brush my kid’s pearly whites. So to help me see the bigger picture on the survival of their teeth, I’ve asked our Dentist, Dr. Richard Reber, to give us all a few reasons why we should brush our children’s teeth. (This is part 1 in our ‘Kids and Brushing’ series)

Dr. Reber:

Here are the common questions I hear in my dental office concerning kids and brushing. I hear parents say all the time, “Well I tell them to brush but they just don’t listen to me ” or “Will you scare my child so he/she will brush?”

These phrases make me go crazy. Here’s the deal, when it comes to your child’s health you need to be a PARENT! If your child was going to harm themselves say by touching a hot stove you wouldn’t sit there and say well I told you not to touch it. You would scream, warn, and physically remove them from the danger right? Unfortunately tooth decay is extremely prevalent in children mainly because they are CHILDREN. They don’t know what is best for them and that is why they were given to you. And NO I will not scare your child. The last thing I need is for them to be afraid of me…a dental office usually already does that so I have to be extra extra nice. Its fun coming to the dentist right? Movies, treasure boxes, and a new toothbrush with Cinderella on it! Yahoo!!!!

Dental decay results from 3 things:

  • First there is genetics. Unfortunately we really have no control over this. Some people are more prone to tooth decay just simply by the types of bacteria they have in their mouths. Some people have less resilient teeth that just didn’t form and harden as they should have. Everyone has bacteria in their mouths and there are lots of different kinds. Some cause bad breath, some cause tooth decay, some cause gum recession, etc…  So when some people who seem to brush and floss daily still get cavities it can be because they just simply have crummy genetics.
  • Second is your oral hygiene habits. This we can control. We should brush a minimum of 2 times a day. I always make kids promise me they will brush their teeth before they go to school in the morning and before they go to bed at night. You should floss any teeth that touch each other at least daily. If you notice on a lot of kids they have spaces between their primary teeth which is good. This gives the permanent teeth room to come in and you really can just brush these teeth and get them pretty clean. Usually it is the back two baby molars that touch and need to be flossed. Mouth rinses are always good, especially ACT for kids. But it is very important that kids and parents don’t think just because I swished with mouth rinse that it killed all the bacteria and i don’t need to brush. That is NOT true. Brushing mechanically breaks apart the plaque framework which is very important.
  • Third it is diet. You always hear don’t eat sugar. Well guess what, I like sugar and so do all 5 of my kids. MODERATION is a good principle here. Also rinse with water or better yet, brush your teeth after sugary treats. Remember all those strands of bacteria….well they are just like people. They like to hang out together and congregate together – this is called plaque (millions of bacteria together in a nice sticky matrix). They also like to eat and when they eat they can multiply.  They do this best when they are fed sugar. Oh how the bacteria loves sugar. Then they go to the bathroom after they eat just like people and this is the problem. These bugs excrete acids on our tooth enamel causing it to weaken and break down. YIKES!!! Plaque that sits on our teeth after awhile begins to mineralize into what is called tarter or calculus. This is what the dentist or hygienist is scraping off your teeth during cleaning visits. Tarter cannot be brushed or flossed off it need to be removed with our dental scalers and ultrasonic instruments. If you can visibly see a hole or dark spot on your tooth it is a very advanced cavity and you most likely have others.

DeAnne, our lovely and gentle hygienist!

Thanks, Dr. Reber. I get it. You’ve scared ME into helping them brush! I need to get my kids on a chart system or something to remember. And then we’ll spend less time in your dentist’s chair. Not that we don’t like to visit, but only every 6 months for a cleaning!

P.S. Dr. Reber is the best, we’ve been going to him for years. You know when you find a good dentist and hygienist, you’ll travel more than 30 minutes to go. And they are fantastic with kids! You get to watch a movie on the ceiling and you get a prize from the treasure chest when you’re done. So if you’re in the Salt Lake City, Utah area, give him a call and set up your next appointment. Tell him Hi from me. (801) 943-2627.