Is Your Child Flossing? Here’s Why it’s Important.

Tooth brushing only cleans about 1/3 of total tooth surface area, making flossing an absolute necessity for your child to develop a healthy smile. If your child is not flossing, tartar and plaque can build up between their teeth and cause cavities and lead to gingivitis. Below are some of the risks associated with not flossing.

Bad Breath (Halitosis)

Food debris that’s stuck between teeth can provide a feeding ground for unhealthy bacteria to thrive. The bacteria buildup can emit sulfur compounds that smell awful and leave a bad taste in your child’s mouth. If your child has bad breath that smells similar to rotten eggs, then they may have excessive bacteria buildup due to a lack of regular flossing.

Bleeding Gums and Gum Disease

Not brushing and flossing regularly can cause swollen, sensitive gums that bleed when they are brushed. Bleeding gums are often an early indication of gingivitis, otherwise known as gum disease. Plaque between teeth that is not flossed away can infect the gum line and lead to gingivitis.
The bottom line is this: if your child has tender, swollen gums that bleed when they brush or floss, then it’s time to schedule an appointment and evaluate their oral health. Gum disease is very treatable and can be prevented by regular brushing and flossing.

Excessive Plaque and Cavities

If your child is not flossing, then plaque can build up between their teeth and lead to cavities. Plaque is colorless and difficult to see. When you eat, the bacteria in plaque use the sugars found in your food to create an acid that attacks your teeth. Repeated acidic attacks can wear down tooth enamel and lead to cavities, gingivitis and periodontal disease.

Some Helpful Flossing Tools

Floss is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Teeth come in all shapes and sizes, so cleaning between them presents different hurdles for different people. Below are a few tools that can help you clean between your teeth.

Ultra Floss

Ultra floss is a great flossing solution if your child has different sized spaces between their teeth. Ultra floss can stretch thin to clean between tightly bunched teeth, but is also wide enough to comfortably clean wider spaces.

Floss Threader

If your child has braces, then we suggest that they floss with a floss threader – a device designed to help those with braces floss.

Dental Tape

Dental tape is a great solution for kids with gaps in their teeth. Dental tape is wide, flat and designed to be gentle on exposed gums.

Your Child Should Floss Everyday

Brushing alone won’t keep your child’s mouth completely healthy. They should brush twice per day for two minutes at a time and floss once per day. You can help your child prevent a bevy of oral ailments by convincing them to floss every day. Schedule an appointment with our office today if your child has unnaturally bad breath or experiences bleeding gums when they brush their teeth. We will thoroughly evaluate their mouth and determine the best treatment plan for them based upon our findings.

Read This Before Letting Your Child Floss!

floss 2
Flossing is an important part of maintaining a healthy mouth for your child, yet a recent study found that only 4 out of 10 Americans floss on a daily basis. Brushing teeth alone only cleans the visible areas and misses out on the spaces between teeth and leaves your child vulnerable to acid buildup and tooth decay. But don’t worry! We want to help you find the right floss for the specific needs of your child.

Does Your Child Have Gaps in Their Teeth?

If so, then dental tape is a great solution to floss the hard-to-reach spaces in their teeth. Dental tape is wide, flat and designed to be gentle on exposed gums. The width of dental tape makes it easier for small hands to grasp it, and makes it more forgiving when children use too much pressure while flossing.

Are Their Teeth Tightly Bunched?

Teeth that have no visible gaps can be hard to floss because of the limited space. If your child has such teeth, then waxed floss might be the best flossing solution. Waxed floss is thinner than dental tape, and the waxy nature is designed to glide easier between tightly bunched teeth. Because waxed floss is on the thin side, it is important that your child applies less force when flossing so that they don’t mistakenly cut their gums.

Do They Have Braces?

Braces and other orthodontic appliances can cause floss to shred, and also make it difficult to reach the nooks and crannies of teeth that require flossing. If your child has braces, then we suggest that they floss with a floss threader – a device designed to help those with braces floss. Floss threaders make it easier to reach the spaces in teeth impeded by braces and orthodontic appliances. Spongy floss is another great option for those that have oral appliances.

Varied Spacing Between Teeth?

If your child has different sized spaces between their teeth, then ultra floss is the choice for you! Ultra floss can stretch thin to clean between tightly bunched teeth, but is also wide enough to comfortably clean wider spaces. Ultra floss is a waxed dental floss that slides easily between teeth of all shapes and sizes and is marked by its ability to stretch into a thinner size.

Most Importantly, Floss Daily

Regardless of the floss you choose for your child, the most important thing is that they floss daily. You can help them at first to ensure that they are flossing properly and thoroughly cleaning between their teeth.

Does your child have bleeding gums from flossing? If so, they could be developing gingivitis. Bring them into our office for a comprehensive oral exam. During their visit, we will thoroughly evaluate the state of their oral health and provide a range of treatment solutions based upon our conclusions. Visit our office today to help your child earn a great, healthy smile that they will proudly enjoy for the rest of their life!

Tips to Make Your Child (and you!) a Pro Flosser

Help kids floss
Flossing removes plaque between the teeth and gum-line where a toothbrush can’t reach. In fact some sources indicate that brushing alone only reaches 35% of your tooth surfaces.  Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most overlooked practices in caring for our teeth.   You should floss your child’s teeth daily until he or she can do it alone, usually at least until children can tie their own shoes.

Getting children in the habit of daily flossing can yield a lifetime of benefits.

Here are five flossing tips to encourage your child (and you!) to start a regular flossing routine:

  1. Children tend to get better results by using flat, wide dental tape because of the larger spaces between their teeth, however you should choose floss based on what works for you and your child.
  2. Flossing should begin when any two teeth touch.
  3. Use around 15-18 inches of floss, wrapped around your index fingers and held tightly but gently.  Children who find it difficult to use this method often benefit from using a flosser designed just for small hands
  4. Be gentle and avoid snapping floss between teeth because it can damage sensitive gum tissue.
  5. Floss both sides of the tooth, even when another tooth is missing on one side.

Want to learn more about how to floss?  Visit the website for great tips on flossing or ask us to show you and your child how to properly floss on your next visit!

These Four Mistakes Are Causing Millions of Preventable Cavities in Kids

mistakes with kids teeth
No parent wants their child to have cavities and the majority of us take special care to ensure that each dental visit ends cavity-free.  Yet, tooth decay remains the most common preventable childhood disease in the U.S. Here are a few simple mistakes that, if corrected, could save children from millions of cavities.

  1. Not Starting Prevention Early Enough

Many parents wait until children are almost school-age before setting the first dental appointment and before they begin focusing on good oral habits.  However, oral care should truly begin before primary teeth even appear.  For example, parents can use a soft, damp cloth to clean their baby’s gums after each feeding.  Scheduling the first dental appointment should also take place when the first tooth appears or before the age of one, whichever comes first.  Finding a dental home early in your child’s life is one of the most important preventative measures you can take for your child’s oral future.

  1. Baby bottles and Sippy Cups at Bedtime

Even though 80% of parents say they know that children should not be put to bed with a bottle of milk or juice, a surprising number of parents still do just that on a regular basis.  Regularly allowing your children’s teeth to be constantly bathed in liquids other than water is one of the most significant contributors of early tooth decay.  Even diluting juice with water can give bacteria the sugar they need to thrive inside your child’s mouth.

  1. Not Teaching Kids to Floss

Most parents do a fantastic job of teaching their kids to brush their teeth (two minutes, twice a day!) But recent studies have shown that 43% of school-aged children have never flossed their teeth…not even once.  Brushing alone only reaches a quarter of tooth surfaces and a large number of cavities are actually found where a toothbrush can’t go – between teeth.  It is important to floss for young children, who often don’t have the dexterity to floss on their own.  Older children should be taught the correct way to floss daily.  Here’s a great instructional sheet that provides some guidelines on flossing.

  1. Thinking Sports Drinks are Better than Sodas

These days, nearly all parents are vigilant about keeping sodas away from their children.  But one source of sugar may have simply been replaced by another.  Sports drinks often contain just as many calories and sugar as soft drinks.  Instead of serving kids sports drinks during sporting events and games, a better option is simply water.  The types of activities that kids are involved in are rarely strenuous enough to require anything else.

Are you looking for a dental home for your children?  Give us a call today!

Make Brushing & Flossing Fun: 4 Ideas that Work.

Make Brushing Fun
If your family is anything like ours, bedtime is full of activities winding down one day and preparing for the next.  It can be a rush to make certain that homework gets finished, clothes are laid out for the morning, bedtime stories are told and everyone gets tucked in.  Too often, brushing and flossing can become an afterthought, especially when kids are less than excited about it to begin with.  Here are a few tips to make brushing and flossing fun (and regular) in your household:

Pick a fun toothbrush.

One of the easiest ways to make brushing fun is to indulge your kids with a themed toothbrush. You can find tooth brushing gear with everything from Sponge Bob to Finding Nemo and even comic book characters and superheroes. Always pick one with soft bristles and with a brush size that is appropriate for their mouth and age.   Giving your child an opportunity to choose her own toothbrush empowers her to be an active part of maintaining positive dental habits.

Use toothpaste made for kids.

There are a lot of flavored toothpastes  on the market that can help to make tooth brushing less “icky” for kids who don’t like the strong mint or cinnamon flavor of adult toothpastes.  This is another opportunity to involve your children by letting them choose their toothpaste flavor.  Of course, always make sure that toothpaste is approved by the ADA and carries the ADA seal.

Make brushing a family affair.

Make oral hygiene a family activity. Toddlers love to imitate their parent’s behavior.  The same instinct that leads your children to play dress-up in your closet will make them want to take care of their mouth just like you do. Practicing good oral hygiene together will also give you the chance to notice any issues that your children might have with their brushing technique. It’s important that they don’t brush too hard, and that they don’t miss tricky parts of the mouth like back molars, and under the gums.  Remember to help your child brush at least once a day until they develop the fine motor skills to do a good job on their own.

Use music, apps or video.

Music is also a great tool for any repetitive activity. Humming a favorite song together is a good way to ensure that your children are brushing their teeth long enough to thoroughly clean them. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children brush their teeth twice a day, for two minutes per session, which can seem like an eternity for a restless child. Using music makes this time pass quicker and can even serve as a way to measure how long teeth are being brushed.  Oral care is a repetitive activity that benefits greatly from a little bit of music.

Ultimately, the goal is to make oral care fun.  Just because it is a habit, doesn’t mean it also has to be a chore.  We would love to hear your ideas about how you’re making brushing fun in your home!

Recognizing Gum Disease and Taking Early Action

Gum disease in children

Periodontal (gum) disease, affects as many as half of all Americans.  Gum disease can cause minor symptoms like inflamed or bleeding gums to an even more serious loss of soft tissue and bone.  If left untreated, gum disease may mean that teeth are lost or have to be removed.

What to look for.

If your gums or those of your child bleed from routine brushing and flossing you should understand that this is not normal.  Bleeding gums result from inflammation caused by bacteria hiding beneath the gum line.  Gums may appear red or swollen.  It’s important not to ignore these early signs of gum disease, called gingivitis.  Regular brushing and flossing is essential to avoiding or helping to correct the earliest signs of gum disease, but a scheduling a dental checkup is the best route to stop gum disease before it gets worse.

What is Periodontis?

When left unchecked, gingivitis can quickly become a more advanced gum disease known as “periodontis”.  When this occurs, small spaces begin to form around the tooth where plaque has hardened.  Not only can this mean a permanent loss of bone, but the toxins that eventually find their way into the rest of the body can have far reaching effects.  Recent studies have even highlighted the relationship between gum disease and heart disease.

Preventing & Treating Gum Disease

If you believe that you or your children may have any stage of gum disease, it’s important to take action.  Aside from maintaining a regular schedule of oral care, be sure to stay active with dental checkups every six months or sooner if there is a potential problem.  You should be aware of other risk factors which may play a role in significantly increasing the likelihood of gum disease.  These include smoking, diabetes, medications causing dry mouth and hormonal changes in young girls and women.

Have more questions?

As always, please feel free to reach out to us if you have concerns about your family’s oral health.  Give us a call or schedule an appointment today!


Top 6 Tooth Myths Busted

tooth myths bustedThere’s a lot of misinformation about dental care. While many of the myths are harmless, believing in some of them may actually cause you to neglect or damage your teeth. It’s important to get correct information and find out what’s true and what’s false. Here are the top 6 tooth myths we love busting.

#1 Baby teeth aren’t important.

A lot of people believe that baby teeth are less important than permanent teeth because they are just going to “fall out anyway”. But baby teeth serve a very important purpose as place-holders in growing mouths during early years of development. They help maintain the proper structure of the mouth in providing a guide for permanent teeth to move in behind them when the time comes. Plus, cavities in baby teeth still cause pain and discomfort which often leads to missed school and poor overall health.

#2 You should brush immediately after eating.

You may be surprised to learn that brushing immediately after a meal may actually harm your teeth. Acids created by food can wear away your protective enamel leaving your teeth at their weakest state right after you eat. Your body uses saliva to correct the high acid levels in your mouth. Saliva also naturally washes away food particles and gives your enamel the balance it needs to continue its protective work.

Even soft-bristled toothbrushes can be highly abrasive when enamel is already weakened by high acid levels. It’s best to let saliva do its job after you eat. But don’t forget to brush altogether. Simply wait at least an hour for your mouth to recover from the acid assault. And don’t forget to brush at least two times a day and for two minutes each time.

#3 Cavity-prone teeth are inherited.

Many people assume that just because their parents had few cavities, that they will also have few cavities. Conversely, people too often use genetics as an “excuse” for poor dental care by blaming cavities on family history.

While there is a small genetic influence in determining susceptibility to tooth decay, the fact remains that most cavities are 100% preventable. Babies and young children, for example, often develop cavities as a result of bacteria transferred through the sharing of eating utensils or parents cleaning off pacifiers in their own mouths.

#4 Candy is the worst food for your teeth.

It may be a shocker, but starchy foods like potato chips and crackers can actually be worse for your teeth than candy. That’s because these foods have a high sugar content and they often become stuck to your teeth. While some candies dissolve quickly in the mouth and are washed away by water or saliva, crackers often hang around in the mouth a lot longer.

#5 Chewing gum after a meal is just as good as brushing.

While chewing sugar-free gum after a meal can be better than not doing anything, it’s certainly no substitute for brushing or flossing. Gum that contains the natural sugar substitute xylitol has actually been shown to prevent tooth decay. But brushing and flossing for at least two minutes, twice a day, is the only way to truly clean your teeth and reach the tight spots between them.

#6 Brushing or flossing is bad for bleeding gums.

It’s too often assumed that when brushing or flossing causes bleeding gums, that those activities should be avoided. In fact, the opposite is true. Gums generally bleed because they become inflamed due to food particles trapped between the teeth and gums. A buildup of plaque irritates sensitive gum tissue. Brushing and flossing should always be performed gently, using a soft bristled brush. However, bleeding gums should never be considered “normal”. If you or your child has gums that bleed regularly, they should be examined.

Help For Those Finding it Difficult to Floss

Help with flossing

According to the American Dental Association, nearly 20% of Americans never floss.  Many people invariably view flossing as optional which causes it to become one of the most frequently neglected parts of any oral care routine.  But as much of a plaque fighter that your toothbrush is, it simply cannot reach all the tight spots between your teeth.  Only floss is adept at getting to all the areas where bacteria hide.  Here are a few ideas for those of us who find it difficult to floss:

Learn how to floss.

Flossing can be confusing for those who don’t do it regularly.  The good news is that it’s not hard to learn.  The American Dental Association’s website has very good instructions on how to floss and has even put together a one page .pdf to teach you how!  You can download it here.

If you find flossing difficult, try floss holders.

Whether from large fingers or a lack of dexterity, some people simply have difficulty with the mechanics of flossing even after learning to do it the right way.  Floss holders have become increasingly popular and are a great alternative for anyone who might find flossing difficult.  Plus, holders made specifically for smaller mouths are great for children or adults helping with their child’s daily oral care.

Consider waxed floss.

Occasionally floss can become frayed, shredded or broken.  This is often caused by teeth that are very close together. You might consider using waxed floss or floss made from polytetrafluoroethylene, a substance that is extremely slick.  Shredded floss can also be caused by teeth that are broken or have cavities.  If this is the case, don’t put off your next appointment!

Make flossing a priority.

Instead of making flossing a “once-in-a-while” task, consider establishing a routine of flossing.  This will help you get in the habit of truly taking care of your teeth and gums.

It’s important to understand that flossing is just as important as brushing, that it isn’t optional and that it’s not too late to develop a healthy habit.


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