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Family Guide to Oral Health
February is National Dental Month! By following the information in this guide, you and your family can have healthy teeth and gums to last a lifetime. As a parent, you can work with your children to help them understand why good oral care is important — and show them how to do it right!
Four Steps to a Bright Smile
1. Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, especially after eating breakfast and before bedtime.
2. Floss every day.
3. Limit the number of times you eat snacks each day.
4. Visit your dentist regularly.
It's easy to guide your family toward good oral health. All it takes is the right information and a little practice to keep them moving in the right direction.
Fluoride - your family's best defense.
Fluoride is the best cavity fighter you can find as you guide your family to a lifetime of bright smiles! It keeps the whole family's teeth strong — no matter what their ages.
How fluoride works
Every day, the enamel on teeth is attacked by acids produced in dental plaque. These acids can make teeth weaker, and can result in decay.
That's where fluoride comes in. When it reaches your teeth, fluoride is absorbed into the enamel. It helps to repair the enamel and prevent tooth decay. It can even help stop the decay process
How to get fluoride
Brush with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day, especially after eating breakfast and before bedtime. Your dentist may treat your child’s teeth with fluoride, and students in grades 2 through 5 at Lexington Park Elementary may participate in the fluoride rinse program at school with parent permission.
Snacking and tooth decay
If fluoride is our greatest protection against decay, then frequent snacking can be our teeth's biggest enemy. Every day, you and your family face snacking challenges. Here's what you need to know:
It's how often you snack that matters
The fact is, most snacks that you eat contain either sugars or starches that give plaque this opportunity to make acid. And each "plaque attack" can last for up to 20 minutes after you have finished your snack. During this period, the plaque acid is attacking tooth enamel, making it weak. That's when cavities can start!
Fighting back against plaque
The good news is, you can take a stand against plaque! By brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and by reducing the number of times you snack each day, you and your family can help prevent tooth decay.
When it comes to snacking, it's best to choose something nutritious and to snack in moderation. It's also better to eat the whole snack at one time! Here's why: eating five pieces of a snack at one time exposes your teeth to possible tooth decay — for approximately 20 minutes. Nibbling on those same five pieces at five different times exposes your teeth to possible tooth decay for approximately 100 minutes. What a difference!
The dental checkup
The dentist is your family's partner on the Bright Smiles pathway. Be sure to schedule regular dental appointments for the whole family.
These are thin, protective plastic coatings applied by the dentist to the permanent back teeth (molars). They fill in the grooves on the chewing surfaces of the teeth where foods and bacteria can get stuck and cause cavities. Once applied, sealants can last for several years.
Adapted from Colgate Oral and Dental Health Resource Center, at http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-Basics/Oral-Hygiene/Oral-Hygiene-Basics/article/Family-Guide-to-Oral-Health.cvsp
The truth is that what your family eats isn't as important as when and how often they snack! It all has to do with the "plaque reaction," and this is how it works:
The plaque reaction
Everyone has plaque bacteria in their mouths. But when these plaque bacteria meet up with the sugars and starches that are found in snacks such as cookies, candies, dried fruits, soft drinks or even pretzels or potato chips, the plaque reacts to create acid, and a "plaque attack" occurs.
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