La Mesa, CA – The new year is almost here, and new resolutions are being made. Dr. Santiago Surillo, a children’s dentist and orthodontist in La Mesa, suggests families make 2018 the year they commit to better oral health.
“Chronic childhood caries, or tooth decay, is the number one childhood disease,” says Dr. Surillo. “But, for many children, it is entirely preventable. I tell parents all the time that their children are looking to them – if we model good oral health, our children will follow suit. So, I would love to see families commit to improving their oral health in the new year.”
Dr. Surillo offers the following tips to parents and families.
- Brush, brush, brush. Everyone should brush at least twice a day, using a fluoride toothpaste. And don’t forget to pay close attention to your toothbrushing form. Brush back and forth using gentle strokes, and pay close attention to all the surfaces of your teeth.
- Don’t forget to floss. Flossing removes the particles that build up between the teeth and at the gumline better than just brushing can. The bristles of your toothbrush can’t reach between your teeth, but floss can grab those particles and remove them before they can damage your teeth. Parents should help younger children floss every night before bed.
- Schedule regular appointments with a dentist. Everyone should see a dentist twice a year, even when everything is health. Regular check-ups can help fend off future issues by addressing areas of concern before they can become problems.
- Ask about sealants. Sealants are protective coatings that can help prevent decay and cavities, and are a great idea for kids. A dentist can apply sealants to the back teeth that can be more difficult for children to reach to brush properly. Ask about sealants at your next appointment.
- Don’t forget to protect your teeth. If you or your children play sports, don’t forget a mouthguard as part of the uniform. High contact sports like hockey and football should always require mouthguards, but even incidental contact sports, like basketball, can lead to damage to your smile. Any activity, be it sport or recreational activity, that could result in damage to the mouth should require a mouthguard.
- Chew away cavities. Sugar free gum that contains Xylitol can actually help your smile. First, chewing will create more saliva, which can work to wash away food particles that remain after eating. But, Xylitol can also help strengthen the teeth, working to re-mineralize damage.
- Avoid foods and drinks that can damage your smile. Sugaring beverages, including juices and sodas, can wreak havoc on your smile. Likewise, chewy foods like fruit snacks and gummies can linger on the teeth, leaving their sugars to damage your smile.
- Eat your way to a cleaner mouth. Your diet can have a huge impact on the health of your smile. Crunchy fruits and vegetables, like carrots and apples, can help improve your oral health. Likewise, foods high in calcium, like cheese and milk, can work to reduce the acid level and re-mineralize damage to your enamel.
- Stay hydrated with water. Keep your mouth fresher by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Water will help to wash away particles that could damage your smile, and keep bacteria at bay.
- Change your toothbrush regularly. Not only will the bristles of your toothbrush wear down over time, making your brushing less effective, your toothbrush can accumulate bacteria over time. Change your toothbrush out every 90 days.