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What should I use to clean my baby’s teeth?

October 18th, 2017

You might think babies don’t need to brush their teeth, especially when they don’t have any. But by starting good habits like brushing when your child is young, you can lay the foundation for them to continue those good habits into adulthood.

When do I start?

The best time to start brushing your baby’s teeth is before he or she has any. Develop the habit of wiping your baby’s gums with a wet, soft washcloth or gauze every day. There is no need to use toothpaste, just wrap the gauze or cloth around your finger, moisten it with a little water, and gently rub it over the gums.

This helps your little one get used to brushing while it eliminates bacteria in the mouth that can harm emerging teeth. You don’t need to apply a lot of pressure or even take very long: just a quick, gentle rub over the gums will do it.

What do I use?

When your child’s teeth begin to come in, you will need to switch from a cloth to a baby toothbrush. Find one that has a grip big enough for your hand, but a head that is small enough to maneuver easily in your infant’s mouth.

You don’t need to use any toothpaste until your son or daughter is about a year old. Even then, though, you’ll want to use just a tiny amount: about the size of a grain of rice. When your toddler is about two years old, you can use a pea-sized amount.

By around six years of age, your child will probably rinse and spit without your help. At that point, you may want to introduce a child-friendly fluoride mouthwash.

How do I do it?

Your child probably won’t be able to brush his or her teeth alone until about the age of five or six. This means that you will need to do it. To brush your child’s teeth, gently use the brush over all the teeth and gums, even areas where the teeth have not come in yet.

As your child grows and becomes more independent, you can allow him or her to hold the toothbrush while you guide your child’s progress. Make sure you talk to your child while you are brushing, and explain why you brush: what you are doing and how you are doing it.

In addition to regular visits with Drs. Wade and Bremen, instilling good oral health habits in your child early on will ensure a lifetime of good dental health.

Pediatric Dentistry: The benefits of dairy

October 11th, 2017

When you were a child, your mother may have instructed you to drink all your milk to build strong bones. Now that you have children of your own, you may hear yourself parroting those instructions you received years ago. Getting enough dairy is essential for young children whose teeth are growing. A child who consumes the recommended daily serving of dairy will develop healthy, strong teeth for the rest of his or her life.

Structure of the Tooth

To fully grasp the importance of dairy for dental health, it is necessary to understand tooth structure. Your teeth are made of living tissues covered by a hard outer shell. The inner dental pulp is fed by blood vessels and connects to a nerve bed in your gums. Surrounding the pulp is dentine, a calcified tissue that is less brittle than the tooth’s outermost layer, the enamel. The enamel layer is the white part of your teeth, 96% of which consists of minerals such as calcium phosphate.

How does dairy help my child’s teeth?

Milk and other dairy products are excellent sources of calcium. Your child’s body deposits this calcium into her growing bones, including the teeth. Calcium contributes to bone growth and strength, and it forms an important part of the solid enamel that surrounds each tooth’s fragile inner pulp. Milk also contains vitamin D, phosphorus, magnesium, and proteins. Magnesium promotes calcium deposits in your enamel, while phosphorus forms a small barrier against acidic foods that cause cavities. Vitamin D and protein are used by a child’s body to build bone tissue and maintain dental health.

How much dairy does a child need?

According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Connecticut, the majority of Americans do not receive enough calcium. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that children under the age of eight should receive at least two and a half cups of dairy per day. Children older than eight need three full cups — the same as adult men and women. Supplying your child with nonfat milk to drink and yogurt to eat every day is a great way to increase dairy consumption.

Growing children who do not get enough dairy in their diets risk improper tooth development and other dental health problems. Drinking sugary beverages in place of milk causes cavities and tooth decay. As a parent, it is essential to monitor your child’s dairy consumption to ensure he or she grows healthy teeth to last a lifetime.

How to Properly Store Your Toothbrush

October 4th, 2017

Have you ever thought about how you're cleaning and storing your toothbrush when you're not using it? Did you know that the way you store your toothbrush could have an affect on your oral health? In this post, we'll look at some steps you can take to maximize toothbrush cleanliness and minimize bacteria.

Below are some tips from Drs. Wade and Bremen for toothbrush use and storage:

  • Don't share your toothbrush – This may seem obvious, but sharing a toothbrush exposes both users to bacteria and microorganisms from the other user, which can increase chances of infection. You should also avoid storing your toothbrush in the same container as other people’s toothbrushes.
  • Thoroughly rinse your toothbrush after each use – Rinsing your toothbrush well under running water will help remove food particles, toothpaste, and other debris from the bristles of your brush.
  • Store your toothbrush in an open-air container not a sealed one – Putting a wet toothbrush in a sealed container creates a favorable environment for microorganisms and bacteria.
  • Soak your toothbrush in an antibacterial mouthwash after use – There is some evidence to suggest that soaking your toothbrush in an antibacterial solution may reduce the amount of bacteria present on the toothbrush.
  • Change your toothbrush every three months – The bristles of your toothbrush become less effective and frayed after repeated use so it's a good idea to replace it on a regular basis. It's also wise to replace it after you've been sick.

There are many simple things you can do to make your oral-care regimen as clean as possible. Use common sense when storing your toothbrush—don't put it in a dirty place like the edge of your sink or in the shower (please, not by the toilet!), and keep it upright in a cool dry place—and you're usually good to go. If your toothbrush is looking a little worse for wear, drop by our Urbandale, IA office and we'll be glad to provide you with a new one!

Foods that Can Harm Enamel

September 27th, 2017

Many people who are careful about brushing and flossing their teeth wonder how they still end up with cavities or tooth decay. Several factors affect wear and tear on tooth enamel. Diet is a major factor, with certain foods increasing the likelihood that your enamel will become discolored or decayed. Pay close attention to the foods you eat to keep your pearly whites looking healthy and clean.

What causes enamel damage?

Tooth enamel refers to the hard, semi-translucent, whitish part of the tooth that shows above your gums. The enamel is primarily composed of minerals that are strong but susceptible to highly acidic foods. When acid reacts with the minerals in enamel, it results in tooth decay. Strongly pigmented foods can also damage enamel by discoloring the surface of the tooth.

Foods that harm enamel

Acidic foods are the greatest source of enamel damage. To determine whether a food is acidic, look up its pH. Scientists use pH, on a one-to-seven scale, to define the relative acidity or alkalinity of a substance. Foods with low pH levels, between a one and three, are high in acidity and may damage your enamel. Foods with high pH levels, such as a six or seven, are far less likely to cause enamel harm.

So which foods should you avoid? Many fruits are high in acidity, including lemons, grapefruit, strawberries, grapes, and apples. The high sugar and acid content in soda makes it another huge contributor to enamel decay. Moderately acidic foods include pineapple, oranges, tomatoes, cottage cheese, maple syrup, yogurt, raisins, pickles, and honey. The foods that are least likely to cause enamel damage include milk, most cheeses, eggs, and water.

Beverages such as red wine and coffee also damage the enamel by discoloring it. Although stains do not necessarily undermine the integrity of your teeth, they can be unsightly.

What can I do to prevent enamel damage?

Fortunately, there are several measures you can take to prevent your enamel from discoloring or decaying. The easiest way to avoid decay is to steer clear of high-acidity foods. This may not always be possible, but eliminating sugary fruit juices and soda from your diet is a good start. Brushing your teeth after each meal and flossing frequently also preserves your enamel. Another good idea is to rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after eating to wash away high-acidity particles.

Although enamel damage is common, it does not have to be an inevitable occurrence. Knowing the foods that harm your teeth gives you the tools to prevent discoloration and decay. With some easy preventive measures, your teeth will stay strong and white for years to come! Give us a call at Children’s Dental Center of Central Iowa to learn more!