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    Toddlers and toothbrushes

    submitted by Dr. Michael Spadafora, D.D.S., Bucks County Dental Design

    By the time your child is three, you should have found, or be actively looking for, a dental “home” for him.

    The importance of this can’t be overstated if your goal is that your child keeps his teeth for life.

    The relationship between the child and his dental health team starts at the first appointment and is fortified with each subsequent appointment, usually every six months.

    The primary weapon against tooth decay, in addition to fluoride, is the toothbrush.

    Parents should brush their child’s teeth until around the age of eight, allowing the child to brush first, followed by the parent.

    A realistic goal is to brush for two minutes at least twice a day for toddlers and older children.

    A pea-sized amount of toothpaste should be used (except for infants).

    If your child eats candy and other high sugar foods, increase the number of brushings in the day, especially right after the child eats.

    Sugar is a major factor in the development of dental caries (cavities) and immediate brushing can mitigate its negative effects.

    While brushing your child’s teeth, be on the lookout for any brown spots or discolorations.

    This can indicate early cavities, which usually are easily treated.

    A cavity in a young child is a big deal for several reasons.

    First, it is not healthy (at any age) to have an infection in the mouth.  Also, as the cavity gets bigger, it can cause pain for the child, and is more difficult to fix. 

    Another reason to be vigilant against dental caries is that baby teeth have an important role in maintaining space for the permanent teeth.  Removing infected baby teeth can often cause orthodontic problems later.

    Encourage your child to have a good relationship with his dentist.

    Your child’s dental health team can partner with you to ensure that his oral health is optimum though his growing years.