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Let’s Talk Pediatric Dental Health Month with Dr. Adena Borodkin of Golden Valley Kids Pediatric Dentistry in Minneapolis, MN

February is Children’s Dental Health Month, and we’re excited to kick things off with some tips on keeping your family’s smiles healthy.

Creating good dental habits for your children should start as soon as they wake up. Before breakfast, you should brush your teeth with your kiddos. When children are learning good habits, modeling the behavior can be beneficial. Let them watch you, and then work with them on their skills. Start with a soft bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. If your child can spit their toothpaste in the sink, use a pea sized amount of toothpaste. If you find they’re swallowing their toothpaste, use a very small smear across the bristles. The most recent studies on fluoride use in children indicate that fluoridated toothpaste is safe to use from the time your child gets their first tooth.

Flossing is important because it removes plaque and food that is between teeth. Brushing can only go so far, and flossing does the rest of the job. It’s not only good for your mouth, but helps prevent bad breath, which makes morning cuddles with your kiddos much more enjoyable. Primary molars (your child’s back teeth) touch tightly together and are more susceptible to decay than permanent teeth. Even if your child has spaces between their other teeth, the space between their molars always closes as they get older. Even if your kids’ teeth aren’t touching, you can still work on forming the habit from a young age. Because gums are sensitive, parents should be in charge of flossing until age 6 or 7 when kids have better control over fine motor skills. We recommend using our E-Z Flosser tool, or a pre-threaded flosser to make flossing quicker and easier.

The E-Z floss tool is pictured above.

We supply these at your child’s recall visits.

In addition to brushing and flossing twice a day, you can also take extra steps to protecting your kids’ teeth. The permanent molars are most susceptible to cavities for two reasons. First, their chewing surface has more pits and fissures than the rest of the teeth. This can make it more difficult for toothbrush bristles to clean the chewing surface. Second, the majority of chewing is done with your molars, increasing the chances of food and bacteria getting stuck and causing decay. To protect your children’s molars, we may recommend an application of sealant when they come in; usually around 6 years old and 12 years old. A report published in July, 2017 by the Cochrane Collaboration, a group that studies and analyzes health information, found that the prevalence of cavities was reduced by 51% in children whose teeth were treated with sealant.

We also know that healthy teeth and gums come not only from brushing, flossing, and visiting Golden Valley Kids Pediatric Dentistry, but from the inside! What you put on your family’s dinner table has a big impact on their dental health. Be sure to include colorful fruit and vegetables in your family meals!