Oral Health Month - Dental Health Facts for Kids

April 08, 2019 by Dr. Andrew Smyth  •  Original Post

Hygiene

Brushing is the main strategy for keeping teeth clean. Kids and adults should brush their teeth twice a day with a soft-bristle toothbrush. It is a good idea to brush after having lunch or snacks. According to the American Dental Hygienists' Association, you should switch to a new toothbrush every two to three months and after illnesses such as the flu.

Pre-school aged children should brush with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste that contains fluoride, a substance that helps prevent cavities and tooth decay. It is important not to swallow fluoride toothpaste because it can cause white stains on teeth. For fresh breath, brush your tongue, too. When they are old enough, kids should also floss their teeth once a day.

Diet

What you eat contributes to your dental health. Cheese, milk, nuts, chicken and other meats are good because they help restore lost two important minerals found in teeth: calcium and phosphorus. Munching on celery sticks, carrots or apples after meals helps clear loose food particles.

Oral bacteria feed on carbohydrates, including sugars, therefore avoid snack foods like potato chips and french fries, as well as sweets such as cake, candy and soft drinks. Acidic foods like oranges and lemons should also be eaten sparingly because the acid wears away enamel, the substance that coats and protects teeth.

Conditions

Good hygiene habits and proper nutrition are essential to preventing the buildup of plaque, a thin layer of bacteria that forms on teeth. These bacteria release acids that cause holes in teeth known as cavities, which can become painful if they get too big. Another common condition is gingivitis, a disease that can make gums appear red and swollen and feel sore.

It is not uncommon for children to have crooked teeth. Teeth that are not properly aligned may be difficult to clean, which makes them prone to cavities. Children born prematurely or underweight may be more susceptible to cavities.

Dentists

Parents should take their children to a pediatric dentist by their first birthdays. Both kids and adults should visit their dentist two times a year. Kids with crooked teeth may also consider seeing an orthodontist, a dentist who specializes in correcting misaligned teeth using braces and/or retainers.

A Different Tongue for Everyone

Like fingerprints and snowflakes, everyone has a uniquely patterned tongue created by different configurations of taste buds. Look in the mirror with your child at his tongue and point out small bumps responsible for tasting his food. Mention that brushing your tongue gets rid of bacteria and germs that make breath smelly while he is examining his tongue.

Flossing

The first commercial dental floss sold in 1892 was made of silk. Children can learn to floss using a pre-threaded floss device rather than struggling to wrap it around their fingers. Show your child all the crevasses in his teeth and how flossing helps get rid of food and germs from all the places her toothbrush can't reach.

Toothbrushes

The average modern toothbrush contains over 2,500 bristles. The first toothbrush was invented in China in 1498 by shortening boar hairs and attaching them to the back of a bone stick. Remind your child that brushing his teeth twice a day, for at least three minutes, keeps the cavities away. The brushing also helps to keep his teeth white, shiny and smelling fresh.

Chewing Gum

American children spend close to $1 billion each year in chewing gum. Unless it's sugar free, chewing gum can cause cavities just like candy. People who drink three or more sugary drinks, including juice, each day experience 62 percent more tooth decay. Take a moment to tell your child why soda, candy and juice are bad for his teeth and should be reserved for special occasions.

George Washington

The first president, George Washington, had false teeth. His teeth kept deteriorating and dentists had to take them out. He had nine dentists who tried to make him dentures. Only one of the dentists was able to make a pair of dentures that George Washington found comfortable. His false teeth were made out of teeth from a cow, hippopotamus and walrus. His favorite dentist made him four sets of dentures and when he died, he was buried with one of the sets in his mouth.

Elephants

An elephant has two upper molars and two lower molars. Its molars are one foot across and weigh about 9 pounds. Elephants don't chew their food, they grind it. After about 10 years of grinding down at least a hundred pounds of vegetation daily, their teeth are worn down to the gum line and they fall out. New teeth then reappear. An elephant may go through six sets of teeth in its lifetime.

Twigs

The modern toothbrush that we use today was not invented until 1938. In order to get teeth clean, twigs were used in ancient civilizations. People would chew on the tip of a twig to make it spread out into several small strands. They would then use it in the same way that a toothbrush is used. These twigs were called chew sticks. These chew sticks were very effective in getting the teeth clean.

Toothpaste

Toothpaste used to be very different than what we use today. Ashes, chalk, charcoal, honey and lemon juice have all been used as a cleaner for the teeth. People have even tried things that are dried and rough, such as crushed egg shells and parts of animal hooves to clean their teeth. A form of minty cream used to clean the teeth was first invented at the beginning of the 20th century.

Toothache Relief

Many remedies have been used to try to relieve toothaches. Ancient Chinese people would wrap the teeth that were causing them pain with parchment paper that they had written words on. Those from Germany would kiss a donkey when they had a toothache because they believed it would help make the pain go away. Some people thought a worm would get in their teeth and cause pain and there was nothing they could do to make the pain stop.

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