Why Oral Health Matters

Among chronic childhood diseases, tooth decay is the most common – yet it is preventable. Bacterial infection from a decayed tooth, if left untreated, may spread leading to severe toothaches, inflammation of the face, and even death.  At Healthy Smiles For Kids of Orange County, we believe no child should ever suffer from untreated tooth decay.

Cavities
Cavities are an infection caused by bacteria that produce acid on the teeth when they metabolize sugars. The infection is transmissible and preventable. Prevention begins with good hygiene.

Hygiene

Hand washing: wet hands, apply soap, rub soap on palms, backs of hands and between all fingers. Rinse and dry.

Brushing: 2-3 times each day, at least after breakfast and last thing at night. After snacking, rinse with water, swish and spit.

Toothpaste: apply pea size or tiny dab to dry brush; do not swallow.  Technique: soft brush angled up to gums, “wiggle, jiggle” 10 times each tooth, start on inside bottom using length of brush, outside bottom teeth, inside upper teeth, outside uppers, brush across tops of bottom teeth, bottoms of top teeth.

Brush tongue: gently brush tongue to remove bacteria and freshen breath.

Flossing: gently wiggle floss down side of tooth to just under the gum, then “hug” and lift up and out. Move and use new piece of floss for each tooth.

Rinsing: once child is able to swish and spit. Small amount of rinse with fluoride, swish to count of 10 on one side, count of 10 next side, count of 10 in front then spit out!

Care of toothbrush: change every 3 months or after illness. Each child has own brush, paste and cup. Rinse after use by holding under water count of 3, shake 3 times into sink. Instruct NOT to tap against side of sink or wave around. Air dry with tip upright.

Dental Care

Children should see the dentist every six months for a routine dental visit.

First visit around 12 month depending on risk.

Nutrition

Bacteria metabolize sugars. Each exposure results in 20 minutes of acid production. Focus on decreasing exposures and choosing healthy foods and snacks.

Strip crowns are a more aesthetic alternative to placing stainless steel crowns because they can be color-matched to a child’s teeth. The material used in strip crowns is the same composite resin used in tooth-colored fillings, and mainly placed on primary incisors (top baby teeth) with severe tooth decay. Strip crowns, however, are not as durable as stainless steel crowns.

Exercise
Choose some physical activity for each day and healthy snacks to support energy. Drink water for hydration.

Resources 

Children & Families Commission Policy Brief
Key Educational Messages
Click here for a full list of community clinics in Orange County.

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