How to Care for Your Toddler’s Teeth

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.

General Brushing

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.

Flossing

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.

Diet

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.

Tooth Discoloration – Yellow Teeth Prevention, Treatment

What is Tooth Discoloration?
Your teeth may become yellow (or another color) due to staining on the surface or changes within the structure of the tooth.

Extrinsic Tooth Discoloration – The enamel of your tooth is as thin as an eggshell. By brushing too hard, you may cause erosion of the enamel. The tooth and enamel may be stained by food and by drinks, such as coffee, tea, wine and cola. Smoking tobacco may also cause yellowing and discoloration.

Intrinsic Tooth Discoloration – The internal structure of the tooth (known as the dentin) may change and darken or take on a yellow tint. This discoloration may occur as a result of:

  • Excess exposure to fluoride during early childhood;
  • Maternal use of tetracycline antibiotics during pregnancy;
  • Personal use of tetracycline antibiotics earlier than age eight;
  • Physical trauma that affected the development of tooth enamel;
  • Brushing too hard with a standard toothbrush.

Rarely, a child is born with dentinogenesis imperfecta, which causes gray, amber or purple tooth discoloration.

Age-Related Tooth Discoloration – The tooth’s internal structure (dentin) begins to yellow and enamel becomes thinner naturally through aging. Over time, the processes of extrinsic and intrinsic discoloration combine, so that the dentin shows through the enamel, producing the appearance of yellow teeth. Smoking and drinking liquids that stain the teeth exacerbate the discoloration process. Any chips or damage to the teeth can also lead to yellowing teeth through the years, especially if the pulp of the tooth is damaged.

Presentation and Symptoms of Teeth Discoloration
Yellow teeth and discoloration occur in unpredictable ways. Perhaps someone may experience staining on only one tooth where the enamel has been worn down more. Others may experience white streaks to yellow tinting, or brown spots and pits across several teeth. The severity of the tooth discoloration varies.

Discoloration of the teeth does not typically lead to pain or discomfort. In some cases ,when the enamel of the tooth has worn away and the structure of the tooth changes (such as with trauma), a person may experience sensitivity, similar to areas where gums recession exposes the root of the tooth. The sensitivity, pain and discomfort of gum recession are separate symptoms and are not directly related to the discoloration of the teeth.

Treating Discolored Teeth
Before undertaking treatment for yellow or discolored teeth, it’s best to determine why teeth are becoming yellow or discolored. Treatment will be more effective when understood in the context of daily brushing and diet. Many dentists offer professional whitening services to address the extrinsic tooth discoloration caused by coffee or tobacco. Several treatments are available as over the counter products, such as bleaching gels, other types of whitening agents and toothpastes. In some cases, a crown or veneer may be recommended for particularly bad tooth discoloration. It’s best to consult with your dentist to learn which option is the best for your teeth.

Avoiding Tooth Discoloration
Because the natural enamel protecting the tooth is as thin as an eggshell, brushing too hard with a standard toothbrush can erode the surface and make the tooth vulnerable to yellowing and discoloration. The PeriClean ultra-soft specialty toothbrush effectively cleans teeth, without damaging the enamel, helping your teeth to retain their natural white color.

Abrasive Toothpaste – Are Your Oral Habits Hurting Your Teeth?

You use toothpaste to help clean food particles and plaque from your teeth, similar to washing your hands with soap to remove dirt and bacteria. What is the best kind of toothpaste to get teeth clean?

You may not know that there are ingredients in toothpaste that affect your teeth in surprising ways. Some manufacturers incorporate crystals or grit into their toothpaste to be more abrasive, claiming whitening action and cleaning power. These abrasive agents can cause serious damage to your tooth enamel. The enamel that protects your teeth is as thin as an eggshell and brushing too hard with this type of toothpaste might be harmful to the tooth.

Must all toothpastes be abrasive to work?

There are different ingredients used to make toothpaste and tooth powder, which are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.  The category of relative dentin abrasivity, or RDA value, is used by the American Dental Association to test and score the abrasion of the toothpaste.

The ADA test utilizes real human teeth that are mounted within a brushing machine and then subjected to a constant stroke speed and pressure for a period of time, using the toothpaste. Based on the test results, the toothpaste is scored between 1 and 250. The ADA considers anything over 100 is considered to be highly abrasive, and recommends scores below 200, as follows:

  • From 0 to 80 = low abrasion
  • 70 to 100 = midrange abrasion
  • 100 to 150 = highly abrasive
  • 150 to 250 = considered harmful to teeth

Very few manufacturers publish their RDA scores on the toothpaste tube or box. Here are some examples of well-known toothpastes, ranked from low to high:

  • Arm and Hammer Dental Care – 35
  • Colgate Regular – 68
  • Sensodyne – 79
  • Crest Regular – 95
  • Colgate Whitening – 124
  • Crest Multicare Whitening – 144
  • Colgate 2-in-1 Tartar Control – 200

Avoid Abrasive Toothpaste – Use an Ultra-Soft Toothbrush

Whether the abrasivity of a toothpaste is high or low, the toothbrush itself is key to the potential for abrasion. Many people either brush too aggressively or they use a standard, hard-bristled toothbrush that can wear away tooth enamel over time. Sometimes, a person will hurriedly brush fast and hard to get the job done sooner. When a highly abrasive toothpaste is used in this scenario, it greatly increases the potential for damage to the tooth enamel over time.

It’s Up to You

You can improve your dental health by being alert to brushing too hard and carefully selecting a less abrasive toothpaste that will not hurt the enamel. Erosion of enamel leads to yellowing of the teeth (the dentin layer becomes visible through thinned enamel), dents in teeth, cracks, chipping, pain, discomfort and sensitivity.

When you clean your teeth with an ultra-soft toothbrush, one with a soft, gel-like textured tip, you will remove the plaque from the surface without scraping the enamel. Your aim is to leave your teeth feeling clean and reduce any abrasion that can cause permanent damage to the enamel and your smile.