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Narrator: Around age 5, children begin to lose their baby teeth. Their new teeth need to last a lifetime, so it's important to develop healthy oral care routines.
Regular visits to the dentist can help.
Dentist Ricardo Perez: Raise your chin up a little bit.
The visit to the pediatric dentist or to the dentist is to establish a relationship with this child and to make an oral health assessment of the child's dental health.
Narrator: Pediatric dentist Ricardo Perez likes to see his patients every six months to help them brush up on their oral hygiene practices.
The most common tooth care mistakes he sees his patients make are:
* Eating too many sugary snacks and drinks
* Brushing only once a day instead of twice
* And, most harmful of all, brushing and flossing without a parent's help
Dentist: Parents want to give their children some independence, but brushing is one of those mistakes.
Narrator: Up to about age 7 or so, children still need their parents' help to brush and floss effectively.
Dentist: He is doing a very good job but he doesn't have the dexterity yet to do a very thorough job. That is why we ask parents to continue to help them with brushing their teeth.
Narrator: To clean your child's teeth well, start with a soft, nylon-bristle toothbrush. Add a small, pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste.
Dentist: The most important thing is not the amount of toothpaste but the quality of the brushing.
Dentist: I am going to show you the brushing, okay?
Narrator: Begin by brushing the rear teeth – the ones that your child bites with and that are filled with crevices that trap food particles.
Dentist: So, we go on the upper right side and we brush those biting surfaces several times in and out like this. And at her age, we can do the sides of the teeth a little bit and just sweep these teeth down. Then we move to the upper front and we just sweep these teeth down like this. And down like this in the back, and then she can go to the upper left and then we do this in and out.
Narrator: Repeat the same technique on the lower teeth, brushing in and out, then sweeping the brush upward. Do one side, then the other.
Dentist: Then for the front teeth, we just go sideways like this and then just sweep up.
Dentist: Kids build plaque and tartar on the back of the lower front teeth, so that is why we want the surfaces to be clean.
Narrator: Have your child brush her tongue, too. This will dislodge the bacteria that can cause bad breath.
Dentist: You're a star patient!
Dentist: We want parents at 6 years of age to brush their kid's teeth. There is the eruption of the 6-year-old molars, and they have to incorporate those teeth into regular brushing.
Narrator: At home, Dr. Perez recommends a two-part brushing routine. First, have your child brush her own teeth, so she can learn how it's done. Then brush your child's teeth a second time yourself, to make sure they get a thorough cleaning.
As your child's skills improve, you can allow her to brush on her own more and more often.
Dentist: At 7, she is demonstrating to you and Mom that she is able to do a very good job on her own.
Narrator: You can tell your child has done a good job of brushing if her teeth sparkle and reflect light.
Dentist: These are your baby molars, right here, 1 and 2, and these are the ones that will eventually replace those baby molars.
Narrator: At appointments, the dentist will want to monitor significant developmental dental changes occurring between the ages of 5 and 8.
X-rays may help the dentist identify problems if your child's baby teeth aren't being pushed out correctly by her permanent teeth.
Child: That's crazy!
Narrator: Flossing is important too. You'll need to help your child with it until she can master the skill on her own.
Flossing should be done once a day, preferably at night, after your child has finished eating and drinking.
Dentist: If your child has good spaces in between his or her front teeth, you don't need to floss those front teeth because those areas are self-cleaned.
Narrator: But you should floss between any two teeth that are close to each other or touching.
Pay particular attention to the back molars, which tend to catch small food particles in the spaces between them.
To floss correctly, you'll need about 12 inches of floss, if not more. Guide the floss between two teeth. Remove it and wind the used floss around one finger. Go on to the next pair, using a clean section of floss each time.
Dentist: There are some flossing aids now, that is a little stick that has a little piece of floss at the end, and those are very easy for a parent to use, or for an older child to learn to use on their own.
Narrator: If you use a disposable flossing stick, you can use a single one for your child's entire mouth. Throw it away when you're done and use a new one next time.
Developing teeth benefit greatly from a little fluoride. This mineral prevents tooth decay by keeping tooth enamel strong and fighting the effects of harmful acids.
Your child can get fluoride from toothpaste and drinking water.
Most municipal water supplies are fortified with fluoride. But if yours isn't, ask your child's doctor whether you should give your child a fluoride supplement or a rinse.
Take care not to give your child too much fluoride. It can lead to a condition called fluorosis that can cause white spots to show up on her teeth.
Finally, since back molars are the teeth most susceptible to decay – due to crevices where food builds up – it's become common practice for dentists to put a protective sealant on a child's permanent molars.
Dentist: They make a surface that is naturally irregular, they make it smooth, so it's a great preventive thing.
Dentist: Now I'm going to put the light in there, okay?
Narrator: Maintaining good dental health is a lifelong practice that involves everything from good eating habits to proper brushing and flossing and regular visits to the dentist.
Help your child brush in the morning before school, then brush and floss at night after eating dinner.
Before you know it, she'll be doing it all on her own.
Child: Night, Daddy!