Those of you who have been seeing us on regular basis have heard us repeatedly talk about the BIG THREE RULES. I know... It gets repetitious, but honestly it is hard to overemphasize just how simple and important they are!  So for prosperity sake and for a simple and quick reference we figured that putting them on our blog might just be one more reminder of these easy secrets to healthy teeth.


Think of what your body does at night.  It shuts down, it rests, it goes into a “save” mode in order to regenerate for the upcoming challenges of the day ahead.  Your mouth is no different.  It "sleeps" and this means that number one protective substance in your mouth, your saliva, is at its minimum activity level. The cleaning system is shut down.  Cavity causing bacteria love that environment. So if any sugar and acid from your daily consumption of foods and drinks is left on the teeth for all these snoozing hours, cavities will slowly but surely form.  So floss and brush at night and go to sleep with clean teeth.  That does meant that after brushing there is no more snacking, no more last sips of milk, no more sneaking in even healthy snacks like fruit.  Water is the only acceptable snack.  Let those teeth be clean for this vulnerable time of the day and you will take your first step to healthy teeth.  Now add to this one more factor for your kids.  Baby teeth have thinner enamel than permanent teeth so it takes very little time for cavities to form.  Protect them by this simple nightly routine of 3 minutes all together (1 minute of flossing and 2 minutes of brushing)!


With all the recent hoopla about fluoride we get so many questions about this.  Funny thing is, as our country is getting more and more Internet crazed about this wonderful tooth medicine, Europe is actually moving towards higher concentrations of fluoride in toothpaste, community fluoride applications in daycares and schools and other community programs involving fluoride that have largely decreased amount of dental decay in children.  At a recent dental conference in Europe, I was pleasantly surprised to see these fluoridation efforts and their amazing impact on the rate of dental decay (cavities) in countries like Sweden, Netherlands, or Denmark.  Bottom line? Fluoride is medicine and should be used as such.  The amount and concentration should be based on individual's risk for decay as well as size.  Fluoridated toothpaste is a baseline that provides our teeth strength and ability to recoup damage done to enamel throughout the day.  Or governing body American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends using fluoride toothpaste as soon as baby teeth come in.  In our practice we support that but allow parents worried about fluorosis (discoloration of teeth due to overuse of fluoride) to start using it closer to 18-24 months when permanent teeth have largely formed and will not be affected. We show parents how little toothpaste should be used and those amounts will not cause fluorosis.  Any amount larger than pea size in kids over the age of five and larger than a grain of rice in kids under five is unnecessary.  We also educate parents on keeping fluoridated toothpaste stored away from the kids in unreachable areas,  in order to prevent any overdose since toothpaste tastes rather yummy!  Bottom line:  Nighttime brushing should be done with fluoridated toothpaste closely supervised and dosed by parents.  It will allow those teeth to strengthen and recover thorough the night.

So before you panic... No it does not mean that you can't ever have that Sprite, Gatorade or pack of Skittles.  But before you reach for them consider what they are made of and what that does to those young, thin, and sensitive teeth.  So first and for most, all these popular drinks such as fruit juices, Capri Suns, Sprites, Gatorades and others are extremely acidic.  If you research their pH, you will find that they are rather dangerously close to the acidity of battery acid!!!  Anything with a pH under 5.5 will dissolve enamel and allow for bacteria to easily penetrate those injured teeth.  These drinks have acidity of 2.1-4.5!  Now add to that the fact that one drink has between 5 and 12 teaspoons of sugar depending on which one you chose, and you have a perfect combination for cavity making.  Check out this great website (drinksdestroyteeth.org) for fun science projects, pictures and tables with acidity and sugar content of more popular drinks.  We have those charts in our office too so stop by and pick one up for your fridge!  “OK so what should we drink?”  you might ask...  I hate to tell you what you already know, but water is your teeth's best friend.  Drink tons of water throughout the day and you will give yourself and your teeth a great gift of health.  Milk is also a good choice especially with meals.  Milk has a pH of 6.7 which is only slightly more acidic than water and it has 1 teaspoon of sugar per serving. Flavored milk like chocolate or strawberry has closer to 5 teaspoons of sugar, but it is still a much better occasional choice than acidic juices.  Just remember to not allow your kids to go to bed with milk. Don't forget RULE #1!  And when it comes to chewy snacks such as Skittles, Starbursts or gummies, so deceptively called "fruit snacks" or "fruit roll ups", they are just as acidic and sweet as juice, but they have additional cavity forming quality of sticking tightly and effectively to the grooves of those baby molars and young permanent teeth.  It takes several days to brush them off even with diligent brushing.  So instead of making that sticky choice at the supermarket shelf (so conveniently located at kids' eye level and right by checkout where your kids are bored and you have no choice but to stop for a while!) think of other sweets that are neither acidic nor sticky.  Yes they will be sugary, but one out of three ain't too bad!  Think of snacks based on milk such as chocolate or ice cream. They sure will make little faces light up in smiles and, if used sparingly, will keep their teeth out of harm’s way!

So that's it in a nutshell. Well... Maybe a large nutshell, but these are the rules our team lives by and believes in.  We have spent many hours considering what are the most important lessons we can pass on to our dental families and these are the three things we believe will make a huge difference in children's dental health.  And I'm sure we will repeat this mantra again at your next appointment which we are already looking forward to!