Dr. Jack Gruber DDS provides expert, in-depth answers to listener questions. Topics include: using dental sealants in children, whether or not to have gum grafting surgery, preventing/removing dental tartar and more.
Dr. Jack Gruber DDS discusses why many children don’t like to brush their teeth and how to get them brushing properly.
Tooth decay is a real concern when it comes to your children’s baby teeth. Though baby teeth will eventually fall out, tooth decay can cause your child to have a hard time chewing or even speaking. Maintain your children’s dental health by avoiding or limiting certain foods and drinks in his diet.
1. Squeezable food pouches
A very popular food snack, squeezable food pouches may be harmful to growing teeth, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Most of these fruit pouches contain 100 grams of sugar while vegetable pouches can have anywhere from 12-20 grams of sugar. This is because these squeezable food pouches also contain concentrated juices that are high in sugars themselves.
2. Carbonated drinks
The amount of sugar in sodas is sky high: One soft drink contains as much sugar as a king-sized candy bar. All this sugar can cause serious dental health problems, including tooth decay in people of all ages. Additionally, acids and acidic sugar byproducts soften tooth enamel and contribute to cavities. Whenever your child drinks soda, remember to have her rinse her mouth with water afterward.
3. Gummy candies
Though the amount of sugar a child has should be regulated, parents should also consider how long their children’s teeth are exposed to sugar. This is why caramels or gummy candies are bad for teeth in general. Sticky substances are more likely to get stuck in between teeth for a prolonged period of time and can envelop teeth’s surface with a layer of sugar.
4. Sour candies
Compared to regular candy, sour candies have higher acid levels that contribute to the breakdown of tooth enamel. Enamel is as thin as an eggshell, so it’s something to be very careful of when assessing how different foods affect your child’s teeth. Instead of brushing your child’s teeth right away after he or she has acidic foods or drinks, wait 30 minutes so that the acid won’t be spread onto more of the teeth’s surfaces.
5. Juices and Milk
Limit your child’s intake of juices that contain loads of sugar. Apple juice is far more acidic than orange juice and can cause your child’s teeth to erode. Every time you introduce sugars into your child’s mouth, his or her body turns it into acid that attacks teeth. Instead of filling your child’s glass with juice, opt for water or dilute the juice with water to better regulate the amount of sugars entering your child’s mouth. Similarly, milk left in your baby’s mouth will become acidic overnight, leading to decay, says Jack Gruber, D.D.S., a New York periodontist with more than 35 years of experience who invented PeriClean, a brushless toothbrush designed to be gentle on gums. Decay of baby teeth is extensive and difficult to treat, so wipe your baby’s teeth before bedtime to rid of any residual milk. Do not put your child to sleep with a baby bottle full of milk in their mouth. It will lead to “milk bottle mouth” which is decay that destroys the baby teeth.
Though avoiding starch is not completely realistic (who can always say ‘no’ to a few potato chips?), keeping an eye on the amount of chips, white bread or fries your child has can help his dental health in the long run. Not only are these foods lower on nutritional value than whole foods like carrots and broccoli, the starch found in these foods actually converts almost immediately to sugar once consumed.
7. Processed foods
Aside from juices with added sugars or artificial sweeteners, certain processed foods can contain a surprisingly high amount of sugar – simply take a gander at the nutrition labels of foods like peanut butter and ketchup. Maintaining a healthy balance of natural, whole foods and those listed above will help take care of your child’s overall dental health. Calcium, a natural part of tooth enamel, vitamins and minerals are required to build strong teeth in your child. Additionally, eating fibrous vegetables like celery helps remove plaque naturally while drinking water with fluoride can help strengthen teeth.
The most common chronic childhood dental disease is tooth decay. More than 16 million children suffer from untreated tooth decay in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Now, the American Dental Association’s Council on Scientific Affairs has updated its guideline on caring for children’s teeth
To help prevent cavities and tooth decay in children, the CSA recommends brushing children’s teeth with a smear of fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a rice grain) as soon as their first tooth comes in. For children ages 3-6, the CSA recommends using a pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste when brushing their teeth.
Prior to this update, the CSA recommended using water to clean teeth of children younger than 2 years old and to use a pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste with children ages 2-6. The update comes in light of the report “Fluoride toothpaste use for young children” that is published in the February 2014 issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association. The report offers the results of the review “Fluoride toothpaste efficacy and safety in children younger than 6 years”
The new guidance of using a smear of toothpaste to brush children’s teeth when they are younger than 3 years of age helps protect them from getting tooth decay. The updated guideline also lessens the likelihood of fluorosis, a change in tooth’s enamel caused by excessive exposure to high concentrations of fluoride.
Caring for Your Child’s Teeth
It is recommended that children visit the dentist as soon as their first tooth comes in or by their first birthday. Once children have two touching teeth, parents or caregivers should implement a routine of flossing.
Get children in the habit of brushing at least twice a day and teach them the importance of keeping a healthy, clean smile. Model good behavior they can mimic, such as brushing regularly, flossing daily and going to the dentist every six months.
And, remember milk bottles should not be left in the crib because of the possibility of “milk bottle mouth” tooth decay, which is caused by children falling asleep with milk in their mouths.
Flossing is an important step in your oral health routine that should be taught to your children to help keep gingivitis at bay, a serious gum disease that can develop in children who do not have good brushing or flossing habits.
As soon as your child has front teeth that are touching (about ages 6-8), they should learn to floss in order to remove plaque and food particles from between teeth where brushes cannot reach.
By age 12, all children should be flossing daily, says Jack Gruber, D.D.S, a periodontist with more than 35 years of professional experience and the inventor of PeriClean and PeriKids, ultra-soft toothbrushes that are gentle on gums and have been shown in patients to encourage gum regrowth.
Remember that your children will need your assistance with both brushing and flossing until about age 6-7 — the typical age when they develop the hand-eye coordination needed to brush or floss teeth on their own.
How to Teach Your Kids to Floss
Though flossers or floss picks may be easier for you and your child to use initially, regular wax or unwaxed floss can work just as well. If you find shredding occurring while using unwaxed floss, switch to waxed. The best way to teach your child how to floss is to have your child mimic your actions while you floss.
To begin, break off two pieces of floss that are about 18 inches long – one for you and one for your child. For reference, 18 inches is about equivalent to the length of your fingertip to your elbow.
Show your child how to wind one end of the floss around a middle or forefinger and the remaining floss around the same finger of the other hand. Make sure to teach your child to grip the floss tightly so there is enough tension to create a straight line with the floss.
When flossing, emphasize how you curve the floss into a U shape as you get closer to the bottom of your teeth near the gums. Then, rub the side of the tooth as you come back up away from the gum.
Make It Fun
The best way to instill good dental habits is to set a good example. Allow your children to watch your daily oral health routine, from brushing in the morning to flossing, to motivate them to follow suit.
Get your kids excited about taking care of their teeth by allowing them to choose their own toothbrush, toothpaste and floss. Additionally, make flossing fun and educational by examining your child’s teeth together in the mirror and counting the number of teeth they have.
Good oral hygiene habits should be taught as soon as your child understands the concept of cleaning. Remember that flossing cleans 90 percent of bacteria that hides between teeth, and that brushing too hard or over doing it can lead to gum recession.
Did you know the most common type of gum disease in children and adolescents is chronic gingivitis?
What is chronic gingivitis?
Chronic gingivitis is an inflammation or infection of the gums that can be recognized by swelling, bleeding while brushing, a change in gum color from pink to red and chronic bad breath. While this type of gingivitis is the most common type among children, it is, fortunately, the least severe. However, when left untreated, it can turn into more severe forms of gum disease, periodontitis.
When you have periodontitis, gums become weak and form pockets around the base of your teeth. These pockets attract bacteria, which only further damages the gums. Damage can spread as far as the jawbone, causing teeth to become loose or even fall out.
What causes gum disease?
Gum disease, usually caused by plaque buildup, also affects teens, not only older adults. In fact, gum disease is the biggest reason — not old age — people in the U.S. lose their teeth. Teens are put at a higher risk because hormonal changes make them more vulnerable to periodontal disease.
Since gum disease many times causes little to no pain or irritation, knowing the signs and symptoms of gum disease will help detect it sooner in order to treat it effectively.
How can I help my kids avoid gum disease?
It’s important to instill good brushing and flossing habits in children at a young age before they reach their teenage years. Additionally a healthy diet that limits the amount of candy and sugars children eat on a daily basis can help prevent the build-up of plaque. According to the American Dental Association, it only takes 24 hours for enough bacteria to form in the mouth to start causing gum disease. With regular brushing and flossing and visits to the dentist, chronic gingivitis can be banished for good.
Keeping your kids’ teeth and gums clean is essential, but you can’t always count on your kids being willing to brush. Even though brushing only takes a matter of minutes, some kids find it boring or tedious to do. The trick for getting them excited about daily dental care is to make brushing fun, and there are quite a few ways to accomplish this.
Brush to the Beat
Play one of your kid’s favorite songs while they brush, and let them know that they can stop brushing when the music ends. Make this even more fun by letting them do a few very simple dance movies as they brush. You can let your kid pick out the song for their daily brushing routines or let the song be a surprise so they have something to look forward to. Or be a bit more creative and come up with your own silly song.
Rewards work. Tracking their progress and keeping score on their brushing habits can be just the incentive they need to adopt a best practices approach to brushing their teeth. This works equally well for kids who are just learning to brush their teeth and those who know how to but just don’t want to do it. Set up a chart, and keep track of your kid’s progress. Place a sticker on the chart for each successful tooth brushing session. Once your kid earns a certain number of stickers, give them a bigger reward, such as taking them out for ice cream, a special surprise visit from the tooth fairy or a special item they have been asking for. You can gradually do away with the reward chart as your child gets older and/or reaches their goal or even better, stops giving you a hard time about brushing.
A Brush with Greatness
Don’t just grab any toothbrush from a store shelf. Invest in one that provides the most comfort while brushing and leaves kids with a mouthful of teeth that feel extra clean.PeriClean’s patented design is a kid favorite. And you can be assured that the bristle-less brush will not damage tooth enamel or bother their gums. Since kids like to be involved, let them pick out the kind of kids’ toothpaste they want and their floss.
Play Follow the Leader
You’ve probably noticed that your kids like to imitate some of the things you do. You can use this to your advantage when it comes to making brushing fun for kids. Get your own toothbrush ready, and show them how to brush properly. Show them one step at a time, and give them a chance to mimic what you do. This provides them with the opportunity to learn how to brush their teeth by themselves, gives them some control and makes them feel a bit independent.
Your Kids’ Good Dental Care Starts with YOU
Your children watch you and mimic your habits, so be a good role model in your own dental care. Let your kids watch you brush and floss your teeth, starting when they’re toddlers and preschoolers. Tell them why you brush your teeth — it gets rid of pieces of food — and keeps them clean. Explain that you use floss to remove particles that are trapped between your teeth. Even if your kids don’t watch you brush your teeth every day, remind them that every day you brush your teeth twice and floss them, too.
Educate Your Children While You Brush their Teeth
Before they’re ready to brush their own teeth, your children will have absorbed lessons on how to clean them properly. While they watch you brush their teeth with their own kid’s toothbrush, you can also emphasize that you always brush softly, because brushing too hard can hurt the teeth. That is why you brush smarter, not harder, and use an ultra-soft toothbrush.
Encourage Healthy Eating Habits for Life
Serve healthy snacks, milk and water to your children, not junk food and sodas. Drinking too much sweetened juice and eating sugary snacks daily will help kids develop a sweet tooth early in life. Excessive sugar is bad for the teeth and provides little nutritional value. Sugar creates a sticky film on teeth that is harder to brush away and, if not taken care of promptly, promotes tooth decay.
Use an Ultra-Soft Children’s Toothbrush
The enamel on the tooth is as thin as an eggshell. It cannot withstand the hard brushing of a traditional toothbrush. Even a soft-bristled kid’s toothbrush can damage the enamel that protects teeth. An ultra-soft toothbrush will be gentle for both teeth and gums.
A Revolutionary Toothbrush for Kids that Won’t Hurt their Teeth or Gums
The PeriClean for Kids, or PeriKids, is an innovative ultra-soft toothbrush for children invented and designed by a dentist. Dr. Jack Gruber noticed that many of his patients, even those with good dental care habits, were unknowingly damaging the protective enamel on their teeth by brushing too hard.
Dr. Gruber created the PeriClean ultra-soft toothbrush for kids. Now, you can use this specialty toothbrush to thoroughly clean your children’s teeth without damaging their tooth enamel or gum tissue.
Gold Stars for Everyone!
Kids love to be praised for doing well. When your child starts brushing their own teeth, put a chart on the wall to record their progress. Give them a gold star to put on their chart every time they brush their teeth with the PeriClean ultra-soft toothbrush for kids.
Visit Your Children’s Dentist Regularly
You and your child will be glad to hear the dentist praise you for the great job you’re doing brushing your children’s teeth. That calls for another gold star!
Unique Features of the PeriClean Ultra-Soft Children’s Toothbrush
- Made with FDA Approved Materials
- Excellent Softness and Flexibility
- Antibacterial Properties in Handle
- Made from High Tech Materials
- Very Strong and Lightweight
- Made in the USA
The PeriClean Ultra-Soft Children’s Toothbrush will be available in December 2012. If you have a question or wish to order your PeriClean Ultra-Soft Children’s Toothbrush, please contact us online. Thank you very much.
Toddlers are often stubborn when it comes to the essentials of life; as any parent can attest, they are often reluctant to dress, eat, and sleep. Dental care is no exception, but the dental health habit toddlers develop set the stage for healthy teeth and healthy habits throughout life. Knowing how to care for your toddler’s teeth is quite important: although baby teeth fall out eventually, if they become seriously decayed they can cause serious complications, including damage to the adult teeth and systemic infection.
Toothpaste & Brush
Until the age of 2, you should use a non-fluoride toothpaste unless a dentist or physician recommends otherwise. Toddlers don’t need much toothpaste, and using too much can be both messy and dangerous; an amount the size of a pea is plenty. When buying a brush, be sure to choose a child-sized brush with soft bristles. A PeriClean toothbrush can be a good choice for a gentle but effective toddler toothbrush.
Toddlers’ teeth should be brushed twice a day; it’s helpful to brush them at the same time as you brush your own, so your child comes to see that brushing is also part of your daily routine.
How to care for your toddler’s teeth: brush gently for about 2 minutes, in a circular motion that reaches the gums as well as the teeth. Brush the front, tops, and backs of the teeth. Be sure to be gentle as you brush – most people brush their own teeth too hard, and toddlers’ teeth and gums are even more delicate.
When teeth grow next to one another, plaque can accumulate, and daily flossing is necessary. Often, only the front teeth are close enough together to need flossing in toddlers. If you’re uncertain, check with your dentist. Daily flossing should accompany twice-daily brushing for toddlers.
Sugary drinks are a big cause of cavities in people of all ages, including toddlers. Try to keep juice and other sugary drinks to a minimum, and encourage the consumption of plain water throughout the day, especially if the child had juice earlier in the day. Drinking plain water after a sugary drink or a meal can help rinse sugar and starch from the mouth.
First Dentist Visit
Babies should start seeing the dentist as soon they have a few teeth, before or around the 1st birthday. During this appointment, the dentist will assess your child’s dental health and needs, including determining whether your child is at an elevated risk for cavities. He or she will recommend general tooth care, demonstrate techniques of how to care for your toddler’s teeth, and get you on schedule to have regular check-ups.
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Medical Advice Disclaimer:
While this website presents information individuals may find helpful in managing their personal dental health, none of the statements on this website should be construed as dispensing medical advice. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any particular disease. It is recommended that those seeking treatment for a specific disease should consult a qualified physician, dentist, or other medical professional prior to using this product.
The PeriClean is not a treatment of your gums. It allows your gums to heal and grow back from the damage caused by over-brushing with a nylon toothbrush. Only a dentist can diagnose your condition. To get results you must use only as directed.