Tooth decay affects children in then US more then any other chronic infections disease. Untreated tooth decay causes pain and infections that may lead to problems, such as eating, speaking, playing learning. Luckily, there are things you can do to protect your child’s teeth.
Dr. Singh is the founder & C.E.O of Arch Dental and editor of the Journal of Oral Implantology. He also regularly visits schools to teach kids how to brush their teeth, accompanied by a large stuffed alligator on which he demonstrates how to brush. Here are his top tips for keeping your child's smile healthy:
- How do you get kids to brush their teeth? - There are toothbrushes that light up for the amount of time the kids should be brushing for, and toothbrushes that sing songs for as long as you should be brushing. My philosophy is TELL, SHOW, DO: TELL them why they need to brush their teeth, SHOW them the right way, DO it with them. Other parents have had success by having their kids practice on a favorite doll first, or brushing in the bath where kids can’t get away, or even singing them their favorite song. If they bite down on the brush or try to run off, you stop singing. As a last resort you can even do it in front of a favorite TV show or movie.
- When should you start brushing your kids teeth? - As soon as the first tooth comes in you should be wiping down your kids mouth with a damp cloth. Switch to a soft kids size toothbrush as more teeth come in.
- How much toothpaste should they use? What kind? – Just a pea sized amount of fluoride toothpaste will do the trick. Don’t use fluoride toothpaste until your kid is over 2. Stick to a pea-sized amount, kids who swallow too much fluoride before the age of 6 can have white spots on their permanent teeth! There are tons of flavors, from bubble gum to watermelon.
- Do you need a fluoride supplement? - Probably not, especially if your water has fluoride. If you have city water, you can check your water districts billing statement for the utilities contact info. If you have well water you can have it tested at a lab; local health districts often have testing capabilities. Always check with your dentist or pediatrician about your kids fluoride needs before giving a supplement.
- What are dental sealants? Should my kid get them? – Dental sealants are thin, plastic coatings that are applied to the grooves on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to protect them from tooth decay. Most tooth decay in children and teens occurs on these surfaces. Sealants protect the chewing surfaces by keeping germs and food particles out of these grooves. They are best for permanent teeth – they should be applied shortly after the permanent back teeth come in, before they have a chance to decay. They last 5-10 years and should be checked by your dentist at your regular visit.
- What should I do if my child’s permanent tooth is knocked out? - Find the tooth and rinse it gently in milk or saliva. (Do not scrub it or clean it with soap, use just water!) If possible, replace the tooth in the socket and hold it there with clean gauze or a wash cloth. If you can’t put the tooth back in the socket, place the tooth in a clean container with milk, saliva, or water. Get to our office immediately. The faster you act, the better your chances of saving the tooth.
- What if my child has a toothache? - Call your dentist promptly. To comfort your child, rinse the mouth with water. Apply a cold compress or ice wrapped in a cloth. Do not put heat or aspirin on the sore area.
Dr. Pankaj Singh is an innovator, educator, author and pioneer in the field of dentistry. In addition to overseeing his three premier New York dental practices in Manhattan, Huntington and Garden City, Dr. Singh is an attending doctor and serves as faculty at LIJ/NS University Hospital in the Department of Dental Medicine and Oral Surgery. He has also served as associate professor in the International Dental Program at NYU College of Dentistry.
I'm a former 7th grade Science teacher turned stay-at-home mom that lives in Houston, Texas. I am married to my college sweetheart and have a beautiful daughter named Riley, who definitely keeps me on my toes! I am also involved in starting a small business which would both manufacture and sell an invention that I've patented, called Toothpaste 2 Go. I love interacting with my readers and hope to learn as much about you as you learn about me!