Even before your baby gets his /her teeth, you might be thinking about what I can do to provide good oral health care, ensuring that their teeth are clean, white, and cavity-free.  Proper dental care starts even before your baby gets their first tooth. Kid’s dental health is about more than just brushing their teeth two times a day every day.

Here are seven secrets to help improve the health of your child’s mouth.

Secret #1– Teach Your Kids How to Brush 

Start by teaching your children the proper way to brush their teeth. Babies and toddlers should use a soft toothbrush and a smear of toothpaste designed for younger children. As children get older, you can encourage them to keep their teeth clean by giving them exciting products that make brushing more fun, including child themed toothbrushes and toothpaste. Show your child how to brush using small, circular motions along the gum line, and make sure to encourage proper dental hygiene by having them brush twice a day and floss or use a waterpik. If your kids are under the age of 9, you should check or brush after them to make sure they are getting all the surfaces clean.

Secret # 2 – Dry Tooth Brushing and Fluoride

It is proven that brushing your kids’ teeth with fluoride toothpaste is optimal for dental health. That being said. Fluoride is not for everyone; not everyone believes using fluoride is beneficial. Your beliefs are your beliefs; everyone has an opinion. If you are rinsing after you brush, the fluoride is only on the teeth for as long as you are brushing. I believe fluoride is a personal choice. Use or don’t, and there are alternatives to strengthen teeth if you choose the latter. (See my blog or YouTube Video “The Other F Word”)

My daughter has sensory issues and could not handle the feel or taste of the toothpaste, so we did not use any. It took me a while to figure this out I thought she was just being difficult.

We would start with a dry toothbrush. It can get your kids’ teeth cleaner in areas where they miss on their own make sure the bristles are soft they get softer and wet as you brush? Dentists suggest dry tooth brushing for a few reasons. One, you can see the areas of the teeth you’ve brushed without your vision being hampered by foaming toothpaste. Two, you can see where areas of the gum may be reddened or irritated when brushing, and it’s easy to see if your kid’s gums are bleeding after they’ve brushed. Three, dry brushing also reduces the amount of plaque buildup on teeth, and dry brushing also massages the gums for better oral health. Yes, toothpaste provides bacteria-fighting properties that help protect against decay and cavities, but dry tooth brushing offers several benefits for oral health as well. So, if your kids don’t like toothpaste don’t fight or feel you have to use it to get their teeth clean. Just brush! Forget the guilt. Trust me, I know the feeling well.  It is the mechanics of brushing the plaque off that is important.

Secret #3 – Use Natural Sweeteners 

Xylitol is a natural sugar found in the cob of corn that prevents tooth decay and gum disease by making the bacteria slippery instead of sticky. Plaque and bacteria make acid from the sugars we eat that stick to each other and to your teeth. The acid weakens the surface and breaks down tooth enamel, causing cavities. Bacteria can’t make acid when you use xylitol, so they simply slide off the teeth and tooth decay is prevented. It’s a win-win for young children with a sweet tooth or older people that don’t brush well due to manual dexterity and not being able to reach the back teeth.  Many new snacks and candies contain this non-sugar sweetener, so try some sugar-free sweetened gum or mints. Make sure it is the first ingredient on the label. You could start with xylitol toothpaste in the morning, oral rinse next, chewing gum after meals, or mints or candy after snacks. You could finish up the day the way you started it with a xylitol toothpaste and oral rinse. Xylitol has been proven to be a sweet way to beat the bacteria that can cause dental disease. There is also a nose spray called Xclear that helps both your nose and mouth. I recommend chewing Gum and an hour a day not necessary all at one time. You can break it up!

Secret # 4– No fruit juice for kids under one year

Due to the fact that dental decay is still the # 1 preventable childhood disease, among other health-related concerns, the American Academy of Pediatrics now is recommending no fruit juice for children under one year. Excessive use of fruit juice can lead to extra weight gain and tooth decay. The AAP also recommends that toddlers should not be given juice at bedtime or from bottles or easily transportable, covered cups that allow them to consume juice easily throughout the day. Did you know that fruit juice has as much sugar as many soda sugars drinks? Bacteria inside the mouth feed on sugar, creating acid as a byproduct that can weaken the surface of teeth. You can help control this bacterial growth by serving nutritious fresh fruit and other healthy snacks instead of juice until they reach age one. I water the juice down until my daughter was 7.

Secret # 5 Check Your Child’s pH

What is pH? 

pH is an abbreviation for (potential of hydrogen or power of hydrogen).

pH is the chemical level of acidity versus alkalinity. Zero is the most acidic, and 14 is the most alkaline. 7.0- 7.5 is the perfect balance of the two ends of the spectrum and happens to be the pH level for pure water.

pH testing is a tool that provides a window to your oral health. It is a simple spit test you can do at home.

Your mouth, like the rest of the body, requires balance. When acidic foods and beverages are consumed, the pH is tipped, creating an imbalance that demineralizes tooth enamel, can change your bone density and overall health. This happens when the pH levels in the mouth drop below 5.5. If you are doing all steps above and still getting cavities when you go to the dentist, pH could be the problem.

It will help you identify the acidity/alkalinity conditions in your child’s mouth that can cause cavities and other health issues.

The pH level in the mouth is essential because an acidic environment can wreak havoc and quite literally cause bacteria that, in turn, causes tooth decay.

It may also explain why some members of the same family get cavities, and others don’t. Their toothbrushing regime may be the same, but the acidic levels in their mouth may cause tooth decay and other health issues.

Testing the pH is a simple saliva test that is an easy, quick, and noninvasive way to identify the acidic, and/or alkaline, an activity that may exist in an individual’s mouth

(See pH blog post or take my pH test your mouth course)

Secret #6 – See Your Dentist 

It is recommended to visit the dentist twice a year because brushing and flossing will only get rid of so much bacteria. You need to know the health of your mouth and your child’s mouth. At a certain point, bacterial growth becomes resistant, clinging to surfaces on and between the teeth, even after the most vigorous brushing and flossing. This is when it’s time to call in the big guns and see your dental professional who has specialized tools to manually remove this caked on build-up, keeping your teeth healthy and clean. Bacterial is what is called familial, meaning families have the same bacteria that can be passed back and forth when kissing and sharing straws, cups, and utensils. Or if you clean the pacifier in your mouth and put it in your baby’s mouth. Your dentist can test the bacteria in everyone’s mouth to make sure you are all healthy, and no further treatment is needed. There are 700 different species of bacteria in your mouth.

Secret # 7 Tongue Position

Brushing the tongue removes additional bacteria and helps improve the smell of your breath. Your mouth is a window into your body, and your tongue can show you a sign of things happing in your body you may be unaware of. Our tongue is way more critical to the health of our body that you know. Your tongue has a proper position it should rest in, which can improve breathing, chewing, swallowing, speech, and if we catch it early enough in our kids, there are exercises, they can do that may prevent the need for other treatments in the future.

I am a dental hygienist who sucks her thumb till she was 13. I was not going to have a child that sucked her thumb! I made sure of it! My daughter did not suck her thumb. Instead, she sucked her fingers!  She also wet the bed. We tried everything. That is why I became an Oral myofascial therapist so I could help other parents with similar issues. I did not know that proper tongue position and exercises could save time, money, and the embarrassment of not wanting to spend the night at friends’ houses. If I can help just one family not go through what we did, it would be worth it.

Follow these 7 secrets to healthier teeth are for your children. There’s no time like the present to take control of your kid’s oral health and to ensure that their teeth will be beautiful, healthy, and strong for years to come. If you’d like to discuss your family’s oral health or have any questions, please feel free to schedule a free consultation.  A Healthy Mouth is a Healthy Body and a Happy life!