I’ll be the first to admit it – I’m…not a huge fan of the dentist (and that’s just a slight understatement). And what scares me more is that my sentiment toward the dentist could be a huge factor to whether or not my child enjoys dental hygiene. I’m working on positive reinforcement, building up excitement for the dentist, and keeping fear, frustration, and anger out of it.
Dental hygiene is important – I’m fairly positive we would all agree on that. But what’s difficult is getting down the basics with your squirmy 12 month old (or do we say a year now?) while attempting to do everything else under the sun. So, to help you with establishing great daily hygiene dental care for your little one, I interviewed Dr. Nicole Stoker of The Smile Shop.
- How do you get your child excited about brushing (aside from pink tooth paste)?
- Nicole: “Establish a routine with brushing, so they know that every morning and night, this will be a regular occurrence. Help them get excited by including them in every aspect of the process. Let them pick out their own tooth brush, their own tooth paste and floss. Once you dive into brushing teeth, have them pick out songs to brush to, keeping their interest in the fun of the activity. Or, if you’re really creative, tell them a story while brushing their teeth – for example: there are sugar bugs in their mouth (some are even riding a motorcycle) and you have to track them down to brush them away.
- What are the best ways to brush for the great dental care?
- First things first, make sure the tooth brush with your child’s favorite character (of the day) is the right size for his or her age. Always go for soft bristled tooth brush, so it’s more flexible to get into the little areas of the teeth. When you’re in there, angle the tooth brush at a 45 degree angle to the gum line and brush in a circular motion. Make sure you replace the tooth brush every three months or as the bristles fray.
- Which is better: Manual vs electric
- Age is important. If you use an electric tooth brush at too young of an age, the electric tooth brush can be too overwhelming. Older ages must use caution too – they might think they are accomplishing more than they actually are. But the bottom line is –just remember, adult supervision will be important to make sure they are reaching those hard to find areas.
- When are children old enough to brush their own teeth (My personal favorite question)?
- Between ages 7-8, or when they can tie their own shoes. It’s important to not cut them off cold turkey – it should be a gradual process. Try taking turns brushing – your child brushes in the morning, while you brush at night.
- And what about flossing?
- You start to floss as soon as two teeth are in contact, which means you could begin flossing as soon as six months, while others don’t need it until they are 2! The easiest way to floss is with your child’s head in your lap so you’re getting a bird’s eye view. The little V flossers are a great tool for getting in between those teeth. Believe it or not, the most common area to get cavity is in between teeth, which is why flossing needs to start early.
- What are some warning signs of cavities?
- It depends on the location of the cavity on the tooth – cavities in between the teeth you won’t see unless you get an x-ray. A cavity on the front or back of the tooth would appear as a white or brown spot. In fact, a cavity would have to be fairly large before a child felt pain. The earlier you can treat a cavity, the more conservative the treatment can be.
- Any favorite websites or apps?
- mychildrensteeth.org is a great resource –it has a lot of great information regarding dental hygiene. It’s got great pictures, stories, and fun activities for young kids.
Here’s a little more about Dr. Nicole Stoker. Have more questions for the dentists at The Smile Shop? Message them to our page, or comment below!
Dr. Nicole Stoker, the daughter of Dr. Michael Stoker, is a third generation Reno native. Dr. Nicole attended local schools including Verdi Elementary and McQueen High. She attended Vanderbilt and the University of Nevada, Reno, before obtaining her dental degree at the University of the Pacific Arthur A Dugoni School of Dentistry. Upon graduating from dental school, she completed a two year pediatric dental residency at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to become a certified pediatric dentist. Outside of dentistry her interests include skiing, hiking, and enjoying the multiple activities the Reno-Tahoe area has to offer. She especially enjoys spending time with her daughter, Elle, her son Miles, and her husband Kyle.