Top 5 activities for healthy teeth

by Maj. Kerri Font
435th Dental Squadron

In today’s busy world, parents can sometimes feel overwhelmed trying to meet all of their child’s needs.To help parents, here is a list of the top five most important activities for keeping healthy teeth and smiles.

5) Institute good eating habits – Eating and drinking acidic sodas or sugary juices cause the environment in the mouth to become more acidic, which can cause cavities.

The initial rise in acidity is usually rapid, within a few minutes. This can lead to demineralization of the teeth, which is the first step in getting a cavity. Therefore,
frequent snacking or constant sipping of these drinks never lets the mouth return to a more neutral environment. Recovery or return to a more neutral environment can take between 15  to 40 minutes, depending on the individual.

4) Drink plenty of water, preferably with fluoride – The largest component of the body is water. Water is simply the best way to rehydrate the body. Fluoride is very important in the development of strong teeth.

Topically, it can help remineralize areas that have been weakened and protect the teeth from further decay. Fluoride does this by becoming incorporated into the structure of the tooth, forming stronger enamel that is harder for bacteria to penetrate.
Look for bottled water with fluoride added.

3) See your dentist once a year – Regular visits to the dentist can prevent a small cavity from becoming a large one or worse, an infection around the tooth.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommends the first visit to the dentist should be at the eruption of your child’s first tooth. The dentist will help with oral hygiene instructions, review dietary concerns, give topical fluoride and answer any questions you may have regarding your child’s oral health. This also allows your child to start a lifetime of positive dental experiences.

2) Have the right tools – Soft bristle brushes are recommended for all ages. Some people believe their teeth do not feel as “clean” with soft bristle brushes. However, soft bristle brushes reduce the likelihood of trauma to gums and teeth over time.
The tooth brush should be angled 45 degrees toward the gums and moved in a small circular motion. For adolescents and adults, only a pea size amount of
fluoridated toothpaste is needed. For young children, only a smear of fluoridated toothpaste is needed. Replace toothbrushes every 3 to 4 months. It is never too early to start a good habit.

1) Brush and floss your child’s teeth – Most importantly, the best way to remove plaque and bacteria is to brush and floss the teeth. Children do not have the manual dexterity to properly clean their teeth and gums until about 11 years old.
A good rule of thumb is, if the child can write cursive, then he or she can do an adequate job of brushing. Until then, it is important for the parent to supervise or help with the brushing and flossing. Flossing will help remove the plaque and bacteria from the other 40
percent of the tooth surface where a brush will not reach. Brushing and flossing are integral parts of good oral hygiene.