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Dental Care for School Age Children

Children under the age of ten usually need an adult to help them brush their teeth.  Teeth should be brushed with a soft bristle toothbrush twice a day for two minutes.  The most important time to brush is before bed and the most important place to brush is along the gum line.  Use toothpaste that contains fluoride to prevent cavities.  Flossing should be done once per day with the assistance of an adult until the child is about ten years of age.

Beverages containing sugar, including sodas, fruit juice, and sports drinks, should be avoided.  If your child drinks these beverages, only serve them at mealtimes when saliva is flowing.  Sugar in these beverages is converted to acid and the acid causes cavities by dissolving enamel.  Saliva increases during mealtimes and helps to neutralize the acid.  Drink water between meals.  If your child eats between meals, then choose nutritious foods like cheese, fruits and vegetables.  If your child chews gum, give them sugarless gum.  Good oral hygiene and regular dental visits that include cleanings, fluoride treatments and sealants will give your child the best chance for a lifetime of good oral health.  

Ninety percent of cavities in permanent teeth begin in the pits and fissures, or deep grooves, of a tooth.  Sealants are a plastic coating that a dentist applies to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth.  Sealants form a barrier that protects teeth from plaque and acid attacks, and hold up well under the force of normal chewing.

A protective mouth guard is recommended for sports or other activities that may result in injury to the mouth or jaws.  Your dentist can suggest an appropriate mouth guard.  Always remember to use seat belts and bike helmets.

If your child drinks fluoridated water, from your tap or from a bottle, then no supplement is needed.  If you have well water that does not contain the recommended amount of fluoride, then give your child bottled water that contains fluoride.   Another option would be to test the well water to determine the level of fluoride and then supplement if necessary. 

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