Dr. McConnell's Tips for Good Oral Hygiene:
- Wash your hands thoroughly before practicing oral hygiene.
- Floss daily.
- Brush twice a day for two minutes focusing on the gum-line. Brush your tongue - it collects bacteria too.
- Use good products. Sonicare toothbrushes and WaterPik dental water jets are excellent, the latter of which is especially good for kids with braces.
- Visit your dentist every six months for a cleaning and check-up.
- Air-dry your toothbrush in an upright position after using to allow bacteria to die when exposed to oxygen.
- Replace your toothbrush at least every season. If you've been sick, replace it as soon as your illness is on the mend to prevent reinfection.
- Never share your toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash or toothbrush holder.
- On babies, before teeth are present, use single gauze or thin wash cloth to gently displace bacteria-rich film that sticks to gum ridges. As they get teeth, continue to use gauze or wash cloth. Be sure to use dental-friendly pacifiers and bottle nipples. Never put them to bed with a bottle as the pooled milk or juice can lead to severe decay.
- As baby is comfortable, usually by age one, graduate to a small-head infant-sized brush using water or infant toothpaste. Before they are three, it is safe to use training toothpaste that is not fluoridated.
- When all the teeth are in by ages two to three, use a toothbrush and child toothpaste. When the child is able to spit and doesn't swallow the toothpaste, use fluoride toothpaste. Don't allow swallowing of the toothpaste.
- Parents should floss their child's teeth until the child is able to do so themselves.
- Reinforce good health and good early health habits by bringing your child in for regular dental visits.
- Set a good example for your kids by taking great care of your own teeth and gums.
- Be cautious with herbal or homeopathic teething remedies, as some contain very strong ingredients, like Belladonna. While not disapproved by the FDA, it is a strong nerve depressant.
Dr. Steven McConnell is certified in restorative and cosmetic dentistry, and since 1978, the sole practitioner/owner of The Marin Center for Restorative & Cosmetic Dentistry in Novato, CA.