Family Guide to Oral HealthBy following the information in this guide, you and your family can have healthy teeth and gums to last a lifetime. As a parent, you can work with your children to help them understand why good oral care is important — and show them how to do it right!
Four Steps to a Bright Smile
1. Brush at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
2. Floss every day.
3. Limit the number of times you eat snacks each day.
4. Visit your dentist regularly and follow his/her advice.
It's easy to guide your family toward good oral health. All it takes is the right information and a little practice to keep them moving in the right direction!
In this section, learn about:
How to brush
How to floss
Snacking and tooth decay
The dental checkup
Preventing early childhood cavities
How to brush
Remember each tooth has 5 surfaces: 4 walls and 1 chewing surface. All need to be brushed individually and thoroughly.
How to floss:
Step 1: Pull 18 inches to 24 inches (30 to 45 cm) of dental floss from the dispenser and wrap the ends around your middle fingers.
Step 2: Hold the floss tightly against each tooth. Move the floss away from the gum, gently rubbing the floss up and down against the side of the tooth.
Fluoride — your family's best defence
Fluoride is the best cavity fighter you can find as you guide your family to a lifetime of bright smiles! It keeps the whole family's teeth strong — no matter what their ages.
How fluoride works
Every day, the enamel on teeth is attacked by acids produced in dental plaque. These acids can erode through the enamel and result in decay.
That's where fluoride comes in. As it reaches your teeth, fluoride is absorbed into the enamel. It helps to repair the enamel and prevent tooth decay. It can even help stop the decay process.
How to get fluoride
You can get the benefits of fluoride from a variety of sources. It works on the outside of your teeth. At home, you and your family should brush with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day. Fluoride rinses can also provide additional protection. Your dentist can also apply fluoride to your teeth in the surgery.
Snacking and tooth decay
If fluoride is our greatest protection against tooth decay, then frequent snacking can be our teeth's biggest enemy. Every day, you and your family face snacking challenges. Here's what you need to know:
It's how often you snack that matters
The truth is that what your family eats isn't as important as when and how often they snack! It all has to do with the "plaque acid attack," and this is how it works:
The plaque acid attack
Everyone has plaque bacteria in their mouths. But when these plaque bacteria meet up with the sugars and starches that are found in snacks such as sweets, biscuits, soft drinks, or even potato chips, the plaque reacts to create acid, and a "plaque acid attack" occurs.
The fact is, most snacks that you eat contain either sugars or starches that give plaque this opportunity to make acid. And each "attack" can last for up to 20 minutes after you have finished your snack. During this period, the plaque acid is attacking tooth enamel, making it weak. That's when cavities can start!
Fighting back against plaque
The good news is, you can take a stand against plaque! By brushing twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste and by reducing the number of times you snack each day, you and your family can help prevent tooth decay.
When it comes to snacking, it's best to choose something nutritious and to snack in moderation. It's also better to eat the whole snack at one time! Here's why: Eating five pieces of a snack at one time exposes your teeth to possible tooth decay — for approximately 20 minutes. Nibbling on those same five pieces at five different times exposes your teeth to possible tooth decay for approximately 100 minutes. What a difference!
You need to watch baby's sweets, too!
Infants are just as susceptible to decay as older children and adults. In fact, Early Childhood Cavities can be a
very serious condition. See The Preventing Early Childhood Cavities section below for more information.
The Dental CheckupThe dentist is your family's partner on the Bright Smiles pathway. Be sure to schedule regular dental appointments for the whole family. A child's first visit should take place before his or her third birthday.
Dental checkups early in a child's life allow children to have a positive dental health experience.
TIP: Take your young toddler with you to your own appointment first. That way, the dental surgery becomes a familiar place.
Your dental checkup: what to expectFluoride treatments:
Your dentist may treat your child's teeth with extra fluoride in the form of a gel or varnish to make teeth stronger.
These are thin, protective plastic coatings applied by the dentist to the permanent back teeth (molars). They fill in the grooves on the chewing surfaces of the teeth where foods and bacteria can get stuck and cause cavities. Once applied, sealants can last for several years.
These "pictures" are radiographs that show the dentist what's going on inside the teeth and under the gum. During the x-ray, your child will wear a lead apron to prevent unnecessary exposure.
Preventing early childhood cavitiesBaby Bottle Tooth Decay
Early Childhood Cavities can be prevented. The following steps can help guard your baby against this painful condition — and ask your dentist for more information. It's best not to put a bottle in bed with baby. But if you must put a bottle in bed with baby, put only plain water in it. Any liquid except water, even milk and juice, can cause cavities. You can use a bottle to feed your baby at regular feeding times, but allowing the bottle to be used as a pacifier can be a major cause of cavities.
• Hold your baby while feeding him. If baby falls asleep, remove the bottle and put him in bed.
• Avoid putting baby to sleep with a bottle.
• Avoid letting your toddler walk around with a bottle.
Remove plaque thoroughly from all tooth surfaces by daily toothbrushing and flossing or interdental brushing.
Proper nutrition means eating a balanced diet so your body can get the nutrients needed for good health. Every day, your body renews itself, building new muscle, bone, skin and blood. The foods you eat provide the building blocks for these new tissues. If your diet is low in the nutrients your body needs, your mouth may have a more difficult time resisting infection.
If children do not eat a balanced diet, their teeth may not develop properly. In order for them to develop strong, decay-resistant teeth, children need a balanced diet with emphasis on calcium, phosphorous and proper levels of fluoride.
What are the Different Types of Nutrients?A balanced diet consists of the following nutrients:
• Some carbohydrates
• The essential fatty acids (found in fats)
• The essential amino acids (found in proteins)
• 15 vitamins
• Approximately twenty-five minerals
Why is it Important to Eat Right?A poor diet can lead to gum disease and tooth decay. Foods high in carbohydrates, sugars and starches greatly contribute to the production of plaque acids that attack tooth enamel. Eventually, these acids can cause tooth enamel to break down, forming a cavity.
If you must eat foods high in sugar or starch, try to eat them during meals rather than between meals, and avoid any foods that stick to your teeth as these can produce more plaque. Most meals already contain acid-producing ingredients, so the less you expose your teeth to these ingredients, the less plaque acids attack your tooth enamel. Also, saliva production rises during meals, helping rinse food from the mouth.