AustinPUG Health

AustinPUG Health

You have a number of great reasons to help your family maintain the health of their teeth and gums. Brilliantly bright smiles, the ability to maintain quality nutrition by chewing, avoiding pain and discomfort from toothaches, and few less gapped tooth grins on the cover of the family Christmas card all rank as great motivational factors for protecting everybody’s oral health. Recent research has also started to find links between gum disease and the development of a number of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, obesity, and gum disease.

Family Oral Health Protecting Your Family’s Oral Health

Fortunately, parents and children alike have a number of ways to help keep their teeth healthy and strong for a lifetime. Here are a few helpful tips on how to improve the health of your smile.

Start Kids Early

Despite a remarkable decrease in the number of childhood cavities over the last 20 years, one out of four kids still develop tooth decay prior to starting school. In fact, tooth decay ranks as the most common chronic illness among young children, according to the Center for Public Integrity, and nearly 50 percent of kids between the ages of 12 to 15 have at least one cavity.

To help combat decay, parents need to start scheduling dental appointments for their child at a young age. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry actually recommends scheduling a child’s first appointment once she begins teething or by the age of 12 months, whichever occurs first. Early and frequent appointments allow your dentist the opportunity to spot the signs of decay while still easily treatable and before the decay can cause any lasting damage.

Parents should also begin practicing oral hygiene on their child’s teeth and gums around the age of six months. By wiping a child’s teeth and gums clean with a soft cloth following each meal, parents can help remove lingering food particles from the mouth that bacteria could use to cause decay.

Seal Off Trouble Spots

One of the reasons dentists have seen a decrease in the number of kids with cavities is the increased use of dental sealants. A thin protective coating, sealants are applied to the chewing surfaces of a child’s back molars to prevent the onset of bacteria that causes tooth decay. According to studies conducted by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the use of dental sealants can greatly reduce a child’s risk of suffering from tooth decay and developing cavities. Despite the success associated with this treatment method, only one out of three kids in the U.S. receive dental sealants.

Use the Right Amount of Fluoride

Described by dentists as the greatest advance for the protection of individual oral health, fluoride helps to strengthen enamel and makes decay less likely to occur. The immense oral health benefits of fluoride have convinced municipalities in communities across the U.S. to introduce the mineral into the public water supply. Currently three out of four Americans drink fluoridated water.

However, if you live in a community that doesn’t reinforce the water supply with fluoride, you may need to take fluoride supplements to maintain the health of your teeth. Talk to your dentist to determine if you get enough fluoride daily, and make sure to use toothpaste that contains fluoride.

Fluoride should be used sparingly in children under the age of six. Excessive fluoride exposure to young kids could cause fluorosis, a cosmetic oral health problem that causes discoloration of a child’s tooth enamel.

Brush Twice a Day and Floss Daily

The only way to successfully stop the development of tooth decay is to brush and floss daily. Brushing once in the morning and once at night removes lingering food particles and bacteria in the mouth that contribute to decay, while flossing helps to remove these materials from hard to reach areas missed by brushing. Despite the American Dental Association’s recommendation that people spend at least two minutes brushing, studies have shown that the average American only brushes for 30 seconds at a time.

Brushing for longer and more often will help your mouth stay clean and avoid the damaging effects of oral bacteria. Because children lack the motor control and coordination needed to brush on their own, parents should handle their child’s oral hygiene until at least the age of six. If you have any questions about the best practices for brushing your child’s teeth, ask your family dentist.

Limit Sugar

Plaque, the sticky mouth bacteria that causes tooth decay, uses the simple sugars and starches in your diet to produce substances that damage enamel. The more sugars and starches in your diet, the more fuel you provide plaque with to cause permanent decay. By eating a healthy diet loaded with fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, you can deprive plaque of the fuel it needs and help protect the health of your teeth and gums.

About Author : John Nickelbottom is a freelance health writer and father of two.
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