Tooth Health

Brushing for Children at Every Early Stage of Growth

June 20th, 2017

Caring for your child’s mouth is important for their current health and long term tooth development. Keeping a clean mouth helps prevent cavities, infection and gum disease, and it also creates a healthy smile as they get older. However, your child’s oral care routine – and toothbrush – should change as over time as well. Below are some tips to help you clean their mouth as they age.

Babies 1 – 12 months

A baby’s first tooth doesn’t typically erupt until they are 8 months old, but it’s still important to keep their mouth clean. You can clean their gums by taking a damp cloth or gauze and gently rubbing it over their gums to remove any food debris. You may choose to use a very soft, baby toothbrush and lightly brush their gums using a very low amount of pressure to avoid upsetting their sensitive gums. However, a damp cloth works just as well.

Toddlers 13 – 24 months

After the first tooth emerges – usually around the 8 month mark – begin to use a toddler’s toothbrush to clean their mouth. When shopping for a toothbrush, look for one that has rounded bristles and a small head that can easily fit into their mouth. Find a toothbrush that has very soft bristles, without the hard rubber liners on the outside of the head (called burs). You can begin flossing their teeth once they have two teeth touching. Use flat, wide floss and apply very gentle pressure to clean all sides of the tooth.

Preschoolers 2 – 4 years

By now, they will be walking, talking and eager for a bit of independence. They should have most of their teeth, and be familiar with brushing and flossing. Now is the time to start letting them have some input into their oral care routine. Take them with you to pick out their next toothbrush. Children love to be included in making decisions, and by giving them a little bit of responsibility, you empower them to make a decision. Make sure that the head of the toothbrush easily fits inside of their mouth, and that it has soft bristles. Since children lack developed dexterity, look for a toothbrush with a large handle to help them grip it more easily and continue assisting them as they brush. At this stage, you should also still be helping them floss and using the flat, wide dental floss.

School-aged Children 5 – 8 years

Your child is a tooth-brushing master, and the only thing they need to keep making progress is the right toothbrush. Help them pick a toothbrush that has a longer neck, and a larger head than their preschool toothbrush, but still fits comfortably inside their mouth. See if you can help them find a toothbrush with their favorite cartoon character or superhero to keep them engaged and entertained while they brush. If you think they are ready, you can begin to let them floss on their own, but under your supervision. As they approach 8 years of age, they should be ready to brush and floss by themselves.

Aim for Comfort and Consistency

It’s important to buy them a toothbrush that they are comfortable using. Monitor their mouths for any minor bleeding, and ask them about how it felt to use their new toothbrush for the first time. To establish the healthiest oral care routine, be sure that they are brushing twice per day for two minutes at a time. Try to only buy toothbrushes and tooth paste that has the ADA seal of approval, so that they are is getting the best product possible for their oral health.

Visit our office if you have any questions about brushing your child’s teeth, or buying them a toothbrush. We will work with you to help them establish a healthy brushing routine, and teach them about the lifelong benefits of a healthy mouth.

Taking Care of a Mouth after a Pulled Tooth

June 6th, 2017

Baby teeth are meant to be lost so that the incoming adult teeth can erupt without issue. Most of the time, baby teeth are lost naturally, or due to an impactful force common in childhood. However, sometimes a baby tooth must be pulled to make room for the incoming adult tooth to avoid crowding and misalignment. If your child has a tooth extracted, they can experience pain and sensitivity in the following days. Follow these tips to keep your child’s mouth clean – and pain free – after they’ve had a tooth pulled.

The Day of the Extraction

Discourage Sipping from a Straw and Swishing

For up to 24 hours after the extraction, the newly exposed socket is incredibly sensitive. To avoid losing the healthy blood clot, make sure your child doesn’t use a straw during this period. The suction created when slurping can cause the clot to dislodge, and lead to more bleeding. Additionally, they should not vigorously swish any liquids as this can also cause the clot to come loose.

Stick to Soft Food

The day of the extraction, only serve your child soft foods that require little or no chewing. The socket and the area surrounding it will be very sensitive, and chewing firm foods can cause them pain and discomfort. Food that can be eaten with a spoon like mashed potatoes, soup, scrambled eggs, yogurt, apple sauce or pancakes are perfect to serve them in the 24 hours following their pulled tooth. Try to make sure their food isn’t too hot or cold, since their gums will be very sensitive to extreme temperatures.

2 – 7 Days after Tooth Extraction

Use Icepacks to Fight Swelling

Your child may have swollen cheeks in the days immediately following their tooth extraction. A good way to ease your child’s pain and fight swelling is by using an ice pack every 2 – 3 hours, or as needed. Have your child wrap an ice pack in a thin towel or cloth, and apply it to the affected area for 15 minutes at a time.

Incorporate a Saltwater Rinse

After 24 hours, it’s ok to begin using a warm saltwater rinse to clean their exposed socket. You can make a saltwater rinse by combining 8 oz of warm water with 1 teaspoon of salt. Have your child gently swish the saltwater in their mouth for 30 seconds before spitting it out. Saltwater rinses clean their mouth and help ease pain in the affected area.

Encourage a “Hands Free” Policy

It’s important that your child does not touch the newly exposed area so that it can remain clean. They should avoid touching or picking at the extraction area so that don’t introduce any germs into the area and prolong the healing process.

Continue Brushing

Your child’s mouth will be very sensitive for a few days after the extraction, but they should continue brushing their teeth twice a day for 2 minutes at a time. They should be more gentle than usual, and avoid brushing the extraction site all together to prevent unnecessary bleeding. They should also continue flossing normally while being careful around the extraction site.

Does Your Child Need a Tooth Pulled?

As pediatric dentists, we understand the importance of proper tooth spacing for incoming adult teeth. If your child has adult teeth arriving directly behind their baby teeth, then visit our office. We will assess their mouth and determine whether or not a tooth extraction would benefit their overall oral health. We aim to make the process as friendly and painless as possible. We’ll guide you through the days and weeks following the extraction and monitor the health of the newly pulled tooth in a series of checkups.

Teeth are for Chewing and Smiling, Not Opening Bottles

April 5th, 2017

People use their teeth in surprising – and sometimes destructive – ways. We’ve all used our teeth as tools at some point in our lives, but did you know that you can crack or fracture your teeth if you use them improperly? In fact, cracked and fractured teeth are the third leading cause of tooth loss. This is why it’s important that you instruct your child not to hold things (other than food) in their teeth. Below, we discuss some ways that you can help you child avoid cracking their teeth.

Teeth Are Not…


Surprisingly enough, teeth are not designed to crush the hard outer shell of nuts. Pecans, walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts all have a protective shell encasing the edible nut. Trying to break open a shell is a great way to crack a tooth.

Our tip: Buy a metal nutcracker, or shelled nuts so that you can avoid shells altogether. And crack any unshelled nuts for your child so that they don’t try to open them with their teeth.


Using teeth to try to tear or cut something is another process that can lead to a cracked tooth. When you try to cut something with your teeth, you are often exposing your teeth to harder surfaces than you would encounter when eating. In addition to chewing on something that’s harder than food, you’ll also be applying an unnatural amount of pressure on your teeth that can cause them to crack or break.

Our tip: Instruct your child on how to safely use scissors, and teach them not to tear anything with their teeth.


Ok, your hands are full and you just need to hold that one final item in your mouth for a few steps before you can release it and get on with your day, that’s not so bad, right? Wrong. Carrying items in your mouth can lead to cracked teeth or worse – serious oral and facial injuries. This is unsafe because if  trip or stumble while your hands and mouth are full, you have no way to brace yourself and you risk suffering a serious facial injury.

Our tip: Tell your kid to practice patience and teach them not to carry things in their mouths.

Bottle Openers

This should be an obvious no-no, yet people continue to use their teeth to pry off metal bottle caps. You should never bite metal, or chew on metallic objects because they are much harder than your teeth and can seriously damage them.

Our tip: Teach your child how to open bottles with a bottle opener. Better yet, open the bottle before serving your child that mineral water or soda.

Remind Your Children that Teeth Aren’t Tools

Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that our teeth are meant for chewing, and not to lend us an extra hand or tool in a given situation. It’s especially easy for children to forget this. Talk to your children about why it is unsafe to use their teeth as tools, and remind them that cracking a tooth can hurt! If your child has fractured or chipped a tooth, then bring them into our office as soon as possible. If you can, retrieve the broken piece of tooth and store it in a cup of milk and bring it along for your visit. Oftentimes, we’ll be able to fix their tooth using the broken piece.