Did you know tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease in the United States? Since dental plaque is invisible, most parents don’t know if their children are at higher risk for cavities or gum disease.
Thankfully, pediatric dentists know how to remove plaque from teeth so your child can maintain good oral health. Plaque is an invisible film of bacteria that sticks to teeth. Over time plaque hardens into tartar, which can only be removed by your child’s dentist.
Practice Good Oral Hygiene
Bacteria love sugar just as much as your child does. Not only do the bacteria in your child’s mouth feed on sugar, but they produce acid that weakens tooth enamel. In fact, plaque on teeth is one of the leading causes of tooth decay which is one of the biggest diseases among American children. The best way to remove dental plaque at home is for your child to brush their teeth twice a day and floss once daily.
We understand that children can be resistant to forming new habits, which is why you’ll need to remind your child when it’s time to brush their teeth. Some parents find success with brushing their teeth at the same time as their children. Brushing teeth removes plaque and decreases your child’s risk of getting a cavity.
Schedule a Teeth Cleaning
Only a dental professional will be able to remove tartar (hardened plaque) from your child’s smile, which is why it’s important to schedule a teeth cleaning twice a year. During your child’s teeth cleaning appointment, a dental hygienist will be able to gently scrape away plaque hiding in between teeth and along the gum line.
Teeth cleanings are also important because they give your child’s dentist the opportunity to check for oral health issues. Your child’s dentist can also recommend ways to protect teeth, such as . Like the name suggests, a tooth sealant seals deep grooves or divots in a back tooth so plaque has fewer places to hide.
Your child’s dentist may also recommend a fluoride treatment. Dental fluoride helps strengthen teeth by giving enamel much-needed minerals. The acids in plaque aren’t able to erode teeth as easily once they’re fortified with fluoride. Fluoride for teeth strengthens enamel while lowering your child’s risk for cavities.
Check Your Child’s Oral Hygiene Routine
It should take about 2 minutes for your child to thoroughly brush their teeth. If your child isn’t brushing long enough, try singing their favorite song to pass the time. You should also make sure that your child isn’t neglecting their back teeth while they brush.
If you suspect your child isn’t brushing their teeth, you may want to start a new routine where you brush your teeth alongside them. It’s not uncommon for children to lie about whether they’ve brushed their teeth to get out of what they consider to be a “chore.” Depending on the age of your child, they might be too young to understand the consequences of not brushing teeth.
Brushing can miss food particles stuck between teeth. This is why flossing is an important part of a good oral hygiene routine. is right before brushing your teeth. This enables your toothpaste to reach previously inaccessible areas.
Also, what you loosen up by flossing will be expelled from your mouth when you spit out your toothpaste. If you floss after you brush your teeth, the food particles and plaque are left in your mouth unless you rinse with water, but then you may rinse away some fluoride that you just put on your teeth.
Sometimes people, especially kids, think “why do I need to brush my teeth? I don’t see anything happening.” However, with flossing, most times you could see the food particles and plaque come out, which proves the efficacy of flossing. If you have a tough time getting your child to floss, look into some kid-friendly flossers and maybe even make a game out of it.
Ready for an Appointment?
Dr. Brett & Dr. Grady and their team are dedicated to helping your child maintain a healthy smile by removing plaque and tartar buildup. To schedule your child’s dental cleaning with our Grand Rapids pediatric dentists, call Mitten Kids Dentistry at (616) 942-9840.
Related Blog Posts
This blog post has been updated.