What kind of toothbrush should I use? Everyone, without exception, should use a soft bristled brush. Medium and especially hard bristles, are just too harsh on the gums. In time, the gums recede (literally worn away) and expose the root surface. Lacking the hard enamel like the top of the tooth, the root wears down easily and can become quite sensitive. Deep grooves can eventually form, causing dental problems. How about the kind of toothpaste, then? Any brand is fine, except the “smoker’s” toothpastes because they are too abrasive for long-term use. The fluoride in toothpaste is beneficial so use one that has fluoride in it. However, it is important to remember that the job of removing food and plaque is done by the brush and your “elbow grease” and not by the toothpaste. By the way, the back of the tongue should be brushed too to remove plaque and bacteria build up there. OK, so I’ll use a soft bristled brush and be really thorough. And I’ll use fluoride toothpaste. Will that keep my teeth and gums healthy? No, it won’t! That will only do half the job. Fully half of cleaning your mouth is using dental floss. The toothbrush can’t get between your teeth, but food and plaque can. As a matter of fact, much of the decay and the majority of gum disease occur in the flossing areas and not in the brushing areas. Is “tooth whitening” safe? Bleaching procedures are safe and approved by the American Dental Association. Bleaching does not wear away any tooth structure or make a tooth more susceptible to staining. All right – I’m convinced. But what is actually accomplished by all this? It’s simply A, B, C. Abort decay, Banish gum disease, Create fresh breath. At what age should my child start brushing? As soon as your child gets teeth. Obviously you’re going to do the brushing at first. I actually recommend that the parents brush and floss the child’s teeth until about age 8, at least a day say as part of bed time activities. The child can help at other times during the day. This will encourage them to learn good dental habits. Will mouthwash help keep my teeth and gums healthy? No, it really won’t. It is only helpful as an adjunct for bad breath control after all the food and plaque removed by, you guessed it. What else can I do to help my child have good teeth and gums? At home, when the child is old enough, s/he can swish and spit out a fluoride mouth rinse after brushing and flossing. Also, starting at age three the child should begin six-month dental checkups that will include an in-office fluoride treatment.
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