Dental Care Checklist for Infants

See the dentist by age 1. Schedule your infant’s first dental visit by the age of 1 or after the first tooth erupts.

Clean baby’s gums. Use gauze to clean your infant’s gums after feedings and at bedtime. Ideally, this should be done even before your baby’s first tooth erupts.

Brush baby teeth. Once your infant’s baby teeth erupt, brush them with a small soft-bristled toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste after feedings and at bedtime.

Floss baby teeth. When two baby teeth erupt side by side, gently floss them at least once a day (preferably before bedtime).

Wean baby from the bottle. Ask your pediatrician when you should stop breastfeeding. Bottle-fed babies should be weaned from the bottle by the age of 1.

Keep an Eye On:

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay – Keep your infant’s teeth healthy by cleaning them after feedings, and avoid putting your baby to bed with formula or fruit juice (these contain decay-causing sugars); use water instead.

Signs of Teething — Your infant’s first tooth can erupt, or “cut,” as early as three months and as late as a year. Teeth symptoms can vary greatly, but if your baby becomes increasingly irritable or starts drooling, biting and coughing more than normal, he or she could be teething. Try a teething ring or bottle of cold water for relief.

Excessive Pacifier Use – If your infant uses a pacifier for more than three years, he or she may develop slanted teeth or a misaligned bite later. If you have a difficult time weaning your infant from pacifier use, ask us about alternative ways to give the comfort your little one craves.

Health Watch: How Bottled Water Affects Your Teeth

Millions of Americans are embracing a healthy lifestyle and turning to bottled water as part of their diet. Bottled water is often marketed as being better for you, but it may be doing your teeth a disservice. Your bottled water could be missing some elements that promote oral health.

For over 60 years, the United States has been involved in a public health program called community water fluoridation. Many communities throughout the nation added fluoride to their water supply, and the result was a significant decrease in childhood cavities. In fact, community water fluoridation is the single most effective public health measure for tooth decay prevention to date.

The Water Works

Fluoride battles dental cavities by strengthening tooth enamel and remineralizing teeth damaged by acid. Unfortunately, the majority of bottled waters contain little or no fluoride. In fact, fluoride may even be removed from water during the filtration process. Bottling companies and home filtration systems use reverse osmosis or distillation units to remove sediments and impurities from the water. Reverse osmosis is a water purification system that filters out minerals and some chemicals, while distillation uses heat to literally steam water away from impurities. The steam is then cooled and turned back into water.

What’s gaining steam in the water industry is the sale of bottled water — and you’ll need to drink plenty of it in order for your teeth to benefit. According to the American Dental Association, fluoridated water should contain 0.7-1.2 milligrams per liter of fluoride for effective cavity protection. While fluoride intake varies according to weight, the ADA states that ingesting 4 mg of fluoride per day is adequate for the average 160 pound person. Since most bottled waters contain less than 0.3 mg per liter of fluoride, you’ll need to stock up to get the amount of fluoride recommended by the ADA!

Baby Teeth Care Basics

It’s never too early to start taking good care of your baby’s teeth. Here are some baby teeth care basics:

– Prevent early childhood caries, also known as baby bottle tooth decay, by making sure baby doesn’t sleep with a bottle containing any sugary liquids — even breast milk. And never give your child a pacifier that’s been dipped into anything sweet.

– Start brushing baby teeth as soon as the first tooth appears. Routine baby dental care should also include massaging the gums with a clean gauze pad. When all teeth have erupted, floss at least once a day to help prevent the buildup of dental plaque.

– Wean your baby off thumb-sucking if he or she is still doing so by age four. Otherwise, it can cause overcrowded or crooked teeth.

– Consider a combination of fluoride treatment and dental sealants, thin plastic coatings applied on baby molars to keep dental plaque from accumulating. Talk to your dentist before giving your child any fluoride dental treatment and have your child use only un-fluoridated toothpaste until two years of age.

– Take your child to the dentist after the first tooth arrives or by age one. Regular dental visits combined with daily baby teeth care can help give your baby a good head start on the road to dental health.

Bad Breath Remedies: Simple Ways to Freshen Up

Bad breath, also known as halitosis, may be caused by a number of factors. We all know that pungent foods such as onions or garlic can cause less-than-fresh breath, but dry mouth, periodontal disease and tobacco use can also contribute.

Bad breath can also be caused by bacteria that feed off of food particles and other debris that sticks to teeth, dental braces or dentures. Thorough brushing and flossing at least twice a day or after eating should take care of the offending odors. Paying specific attention to your tongue while brushing can also help eliminate odors since bacteria can cling to the tongue’s surface.

If you are concerned about having bad breath after eating, but do not have time to brush afterwards, chewing gum or sucking sugar-free candy can help stimulate saliva flow which helps wash away bacteria and debris.

What to Do Next

Drinking plenty of water and snacking on crunchy fruits and vegetables such as apples, celery and carrots can also prevent halitosis-causing bacteria from forming. If you smoke, bad breath is one of many health concerns that may affect your decision to quit. Since smoking can cause vitamin C deficiency, which could be contributing to your bad breath, taking a vitamin C supplement may help.

It is also important to understand that infamous bad breath causers – such as onions and garlic – often live up their reputations. Once you begin to digest them, their odor-causing chemicals are absorbed into your blood stream. As they travel through your circulatory system, they may be transferred to your lungs and become detectable in your breath. When this happens, you may be stuck with an unfortunate odor for two days no matter how often you use your toothbrush!

Products like breath sprays, mints and mouth wash are also great ways to mask bad breath on the run but will not treat its root cause and may wear off quickly. If you notice that you are developing chronic bad breath, it is a good idea to speak with your dentist.

If your halitosis is caused by periodontal disease, your dentist can offer a gum disease treatment to relieve symptoms or may refer you to a periodontist to address the underlying cause of your bad breath. If you are prone to heavy dental plaque build up, your dentist may recommend that you use a special antimicrobial mouthwash. Tooth decay can also cause bad breath, so consult your dentist if you don’t smell an improvement after a few days.

Clear the Clutter From Your Mouth in 5 Easy Steps

1. Get your teeth professionally cleaned.

When it comes to spring cleaning your home, you can do it yourself or hire a professional if you don’t have the time. But when it comes to cleaning your teeth thoroughly, seeing a professional is a necessity. We’re not saying brushing and flossing aren’t essential – but it’s only part of the equation. To get rid of the guck (aka plaque and tartar) that’s built up on your teeth, you’ll have to rely on the experts to do that. While some dentists do teeth cleanings themselves, they often turn to their dental hygienists to handle the job.

2. Change your toothbrush.

After using a toothbrush for about three months, the bristles become frayed and flattened — telltale signs that it’s time to get a new one. In fact, most dentists recommend changing your toothbrush every three months, if not sooner, depending on how soft or hard you brush. Also consider getting a toothbrush sanitizer like Zapi, which may kill up to 99 percent of toothbrush bacteria. Keep in mind that even if you invest in a sanitizer, you should still change your toothbrush every three months.
3. Put floss and mouthwash to work.
Most people have all the right tooth tools – toothbrush, floss and mouthwash – but many only use a toothbrush on a daily basis. If this sounds like you, spring is just as good a time as any to start using your floss and mouthwash. Flossing removes particles in between your teeth that brushing can’t reach. And mouthwash can give your mouth a truly clean feel. But proper flossing techniques are key; be sure to check out our “How to Floss” guide to find out if you’re doing it right.
Choosing the right kind of mouthwash is also important. Many dentists recommended using an alcohol-free mouthwash that won’t dry out your mouth. Mouthwash typically falls into two categories: cosmetic and therapeutic. Cosmetic mouthwashes mask bad breath and can help eliminate some mouth bacteria but have a limited overall effect on your dental health. Therapeutic mouthwashes can help fight periodontal disease and cavities and build tooth enamel. Be sure to consult your dentist about the best mouthwash for you!
4. Drink fluoridated water.
It’s well known that fluoride can help fight cavities. But most bottled waters don’t contain fluoride. On the other hand, many community water systems are fluoridated. So even if it’s not safe to drink your local water straight from the tap, it may be better to drink filtered tap water rather than bottled water. Drinking plenty of water also helps flush out the bacteria from your mouth.
5. Consider a teeth whitening treatment.
 While not technically “clutter,” tooth stains are something that most people want to get rid of. As part of your “spring revival,” you may want to consider treating yourself to a laser teeth whitening treatment. Laser teeth whitening treatments can literally transform your teeth from dull to dazzling, making your teeth 8-10 shades whiter in about an hour!
Remember, whether it’s been six months or six years since your last teeth cleaning, it’s never too late to get your dental health back on track.