Toddler smiling while brushing her teeth as part of her daily dental hygiene routine

In October, dental offices across the nation celebrate dental hygienists’ hard work. Pediatric dental hygienists provide preventative oral care and dental hygiene practices. They examine and clean young patients’ teeth under a dentist’s supervision. Additionally, they educate young patients about their developing mouths in kid-friendly language. 

Good dental hygiene must happen in and outside of the dentist’s chair. Here are the answers to five commonly asked questions regarding dental hygiene: 

1. How do I remove plaque from my children’s teeth?

Did you know that the mouth is full of bacteria? Helpful bacterias create balance in your mouth’s ecosystem. However, an imbalance of oral bacteria can destroy teeth and supporting tissues. When harmful oral bacteria lingers on the surface of teeth, plaque develops. After bacterial plaque hardens into tartar, it can only be removed by a dental hygienist. If a dental hygienist does not remove the tartar, cavities and gum disease are likely to develop. 

A dental hygiene routine with flossing and twice-daily brushing can help prevent plaque and tartar development. Daily brushing keeps the mouth healthy by removing food particles and bacteria. In addition, the brushing motion also stimulates the gums (which helps keep them healthy). Also, choosing toothpaste with fluoride is a simple practice that prevents cavities.

2. Do my kids really need to floss?

Even though some children and adults consider flossing a chore, flossing is an essential habit. Brushing alone cannot remove the plaque and food particles lodged between teeth and near the gumline. We recommend flossing at least once per day.

With any dental floss, be mindful to avoid gum injury:

  1. Gently insert the floss between two adjacent teeth using a rocking back and forth motion.
  2. Carefully bring the floss to the gumline (but do not force it under the gums).
  3. Curve floss around the edge of the tooth in the shape of the letter “C.” 
  4. Slide it up and down the side of each tooth.
  5. Repeat the process between all teeth.

3. What’s the correct way to teach my children how to brush their teeth?

Brushing teeth in the morning and before bed helps prevent plaque build-up. Here are some tips to help teach your children to brush their teeth effectively:

  1. Use a timer or favorite tune to time children for two to three minutes.
  2. Hold the brush at a righchildren’skid’sWhat’st angle (45 degrees) against the gumline.
  3. Gently brush all inside and outside surfaces of the teeth in short strokes. Scrub the chewing surfaces, making sure to clean the pits and crevices.
  4. Gently brush the tongue to remove harmful breath-causing bacteria.

4. How does sugar affect my kid’s dental hygiene?

In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that children and adults reduce their sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake. Sugar is a widely-known culprit of tooth decay because harmful oral bacteria thrive on high starch diets consisting of sugars and carbohydrates. When oral bacteria feast on sugar and carbohydrates, they create acids that can lead to bacterial infections. If left untreated, oral bacterial infection can turn into cavities.

An often overlooked component of maintaining good oral hygiene is cutting down on sugary, high-carbohydrate foods. This dietary change can decrease the likelihood of children developing cavities.

5. How often should my children visit the dentist for a dental hygiene visit?

Dental professionals encourage people of all ages to visit every six months. Consistent visits to the dental clinic can help prevent tooth decay, gum disease, other oral health disorders. Our dental hygienists work diligently and patiently to keep your children’s teeth healthy by:

  • Removing cavity and gum-disease causing bacteria, plaque, and tartar
  • Cleaning and smoothing the surface of the teeth
  • Educating children to care for their teeth

Schedule a dental cleaning in Overland Park, KS, by calling (913) 685-9990 or messaging us online today.

Little patient conversing with her dentist at dental office before her regular checkup for cavities and gum disease.

While it’s more prevalent in adults, younger kids and adolescents are still at risk for periodontal (gum) disease. Something worth smiling about is that gum disease is treatable. In this article, we talk about gum disease and how to handle it.

How Gum Disease Forms in Children

When harmful bacteria, food particles, and sugar build up on teeth and gums, they produce a sticky film called plaque. Plaque buildup can lead to puffy, inflamed, and bleeding gums. If this gets worse, severe gum disease can loosen teeth and damage the soft tissue and bones underneath them.

Signs of Gum Disease in Children and Teens

Chronic gingivitis is widespread in children and is the mildest form of gum disease. Here are four signs of gingivitis:

  • Inflamed gums that look puffy, swollen, and bright red
  • Bleeding gums during brushing, flossing, or any other time
  • Bad breath (halitosis) that does not clear up after brushing and flossing
  • Calculus (hardened plaque and tartar) builds up

Thankfully, gingivitis is treatable and reversible through at-home hygiene routines and professional dental intervention. However, left untreated, gingivitis can gradually progress into more severe forms of periodontal disease.

Periodontitis happens in otherwise healthy young people and typically attacks around puberty or later in life. The three stages of periodontitis are:

·        Early stages of periodontitis stem from gingivitis. Gums may recede or move away from the teeth and sometimes expose tooth roots. Slight bone and connective tissue loss are common signs during the initial stage of periodontitis. Patients may also experience sensitivity to temperature or discomfort when chewing.

·        Moderate periodontitis is more destruction of bone and connective tissue. Multiple teeth may be abnormally spaced and feel loose or separated. Periodontal pockets begin to form and fill with bacteria and tartar.

·        Severe jaw bone loss and increased tooth mobility accompany advanced forms of gum disease. Periodontal pockets deepen and may fill with bacteria, tartar, and even pus (if infected). Teeth are more at risk of falling out at the advanced stage of gum disease.

How to Prevent Gum Disease

A consistent oral hygiene routine is the most efficient way to prevent and treat gum disease. Simple oral hygiene care includes:

  • Thoroughly brushing and flossing teeth twice a day
  • Using a pea-sized fluoridated toothpaste (if the child is over two years of age)
  • Rinsing the mouth with a mouthwash to reduce oral bacteria
  • Enjoying a healthy diet that is low in sugar and starch
  • Visiting the dentist twice a year for checkups and cleanings

Good oral hygiene routines are essential for babies, children, and teenagers. While it’s normal for a kid to sneak a sweet treat or miss brushing here and there—sticking to at-home oral hygiene, eating a balanced diet, and regular dental checkups are imperative. These healthy habits help protect children against gum disease and other health problems.

How to Treat Gum Disease

Here are some ways dentists treat all stages of gum disease:

  • Good dental habits (as mentioned in the last section) can help fight gingivitis.
  • Scaling and root planing can remove plaque and tartar on the surface of the teeth and under the gum lines. This treatment can also smooth tooth roots and reattach gums to the teeth.
  • Antibiotics may be put in the periodontal pockets or orally in a pill form. Sometimes, dentists also prescribe an anti-bacterial
  • Surgery is needed to restore gingival tissues damaged by advanced gum disease.

Track and Treat Gum Disease in Overland Park, KS

Childhood gum disease requires professional care. Dr. Matt helps parents manage and treat gum conditions that detriment oral health and overall wellness. Call 913-685-9990 or message us online to schedule an appointment at Smiles Dentistry for Kids.

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