Brushing and Flossing

We recommend a toothbrush with soft bristles and the appropriate size for the child's mouth. For children younger than age 3, parents should brush their child’s teeth with water or a non-fluoridated toothpaste - no fluoride. The reason for this is that children under the age of three tend to swallow the toothpaste. There is evidence to support that children under age 3 who ingest too much fluoride toothpaste are at increased risk of dental fluorosis. This is typically characterized by a brownish discoloration on some of the permanent teeth. This discoloration is incooperated into the tooth as it is undergoing calcification and is not easily removed. Flouride, like all meds, must be used at appropiate ages and doses for maximum benefit and lowest risk. By age 3, most children understand how to ''spit and rinse''. After age 3, parents should continue to assist and supervise brushing. Use no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and make sure children do not swallow excess toothpaste. Why so much talk about flouride? When flouride comes in contact with an enamel surface, it undergoes an interaction with the enamel substituing flouride ions for calcium ions. This results in an enamel surface that is much more resistant to bacterial acids that cause cavities. This ion exchange is not permanent, therefore the need to use topical flouride daily.

There are several schools of thought on the best tooth brushing technique to clean a child's teeth. It is the opinion of many that the technique you use when brushing your child's teeth is not critical as long as the bristles of the brush are in contact with the tooth surface. In general, if the bristles of the brush are brushing the tooth surface, the plaque will be removed. We do have some suggestions though. When you brush your child's teeth, use short, deliberate up and down or back and forth strokes covering all surfaces - cheek side, tongue side, palate side and chewing surfaces. Teach your child to thoroughly rinse following brushing.

Brush your child's teeth several times daily, but the most important time is evening just before bedtime because during sleep salivary flow decreases. This decrease in salivary flow results in less diluting and removal of the bacterial acids produced by the bacteria in plaque. When brushing your child's remember that your primary objective is to remove all of the plaque.

Flossing is essential, too. We recommend flossing your child's teeth just before bedtime. As plaque bulilds up through-out the day, much of it will be in the area between your child's teeth where bristles of the brush do not reach. The only way to clean these areas is with floss or a floss aid. Flossing a young child's teeth is not easy. Get it done once a day and be proud of yourself! It can be a struggle.


Interproximal Toothbrush

For children wearing braces, a Proxabrush is an interproximal - between the teeth - brush that your child may use to clean underneath and around their wires and braces. The Proxabrush or a similar brand will help clean your child's braces between their brackets and under their wires reducing their risk of scarring, discoloration, decalcification, and cavity formation. Tooth surfaces along the gum margin, between the brackets and under the wires are at high risk of the above problems when poor oral hygiene is present. If your child is wearing braces, it is imperative that they make an A+ in tooth brushing and flossing every day. Having your child's teeth cleaned every 3 to 6 months while wearing braces is a good idea, but it's what happens or doesn't happen at home on a day to day basis that will determine the outcome. As their parent you must take responsibility and get it done or see that it gets done. It's more than is the child brushing and flossing, it's how well are they brushing and flossing. We see too many children that are brushing everyday, but are doing a very poor job brushing. Again, oral hygiene must be excellent with or without braces to minimize risk factors.

Antibacterial Mouthwash

Peroxyl, a hydrogen peroxide antiseptic mouth rinse, will reduce inflammation to your gums and cheeks. Peroxyl helps to prevent infection and decrease irritation that may develop from your braces. Rinse your mouth with two teaspoons of Peroxyl (half a capful) for one minute and then spit it out. You may use Peroxyl up to four times daily following your schedule for brushing: after meals (or after school) and before bed. Just like using peroxide for a scrape on your skin, Peroxyl helps the inside of your mouth heal. Peroxyl can be used for general irritation caused by your braces or for canker sores, cheek bites and other minor temporary injuries to the gums.

Topical Fluoride

Phos-Flur is a sodium fluoride gel that helps prevent tooth decay while you are wearing braces by killing bacteria and replacing minerals in tooth enamel that have been exposed to harmful acids. The use of Phos-Flur does not replace daily brushing and flossing but should be done following your daily schedule at bedtime. Place a small strip of Phos-Flur on a toothbrush and apply it to your teeth for one minute and spit it out. You may not eat or drink for 30 minutes after you use Phos-Flur. It is important for the active ingredient to stay on your teeth for 30 minutes, so do not wash it away by eating or drinking.

Cleaning Your Removable Appliance

Brush your removable appliance every day as a part of your regular brushing and flossing schedule. Because food particles and plaque can accumulate on your appliance just as they do on your teeth, soak the appliance daily. Dissolve a Polident, Efferdent or other denture-cleaning tablet in a glass of tap water at room temperature and soak your appliance once every day. Your appliance will taste better, and you will minimize plaque and bacterial accumulation.