Let's talk about spit, baby!
Let's talk about food debris!
Let's talk about all the good things and the bad things and cavities!
Let's talk about spit!
If you sang this to Salt-N-Pepa's hit song in the 90s, give your self a high-five!
As a mom, of two boys, I've come to dislike spitting. It is a gross habit. However, spit, or saliva, is actually a really interesting product of the body. Saliva is also very important when it comes to dental health.
What is saliva?
When you eat, your salivary glands release saliva into the mouth to aid in beginning stages of digestion. Saliva is 99.5% water, but the other .5% is a make up of other important substances. One of those is a disease-fighting substance to help prevent cavities and other infections. Because it is mostly water, it helps wash away food and debris from teeth and gums. And lastly, it helps keep your teeth strong by providing high levels of calcium, fluoride and phosphate ions at the tooth surface.
Why is brushing before bed important?
You already know that you need to brush twice a day, but the times your brush also are important. One of those two times should be right before bed. Why, you ask? This is because when we sleep our bodies decrease the production of saliva. If you go to bed without brushing, the bacteria in our mouths will act like it is a $3.99 All-You-Can-Eat mile-long Las Vegas buffet! The bacteria produces acids and the sticky plaque allows for those acids to stay close to the teeth, slowly breaking down the enamel. Enamel is the protective shield of the tooth. It is strong, but the constant presence of acid will wear it away. Once the enamel shield is worn away, a hole is formed and you have a cavity.
When you brush and floss, your brush away the food debris, the sugars, and the plaque. Without those on your teeth and gums, the bacteria has no food source. This reduces your cavity risk greatly!
What is Dry Mouth?
Xerostomia (aka dry mouth) is not a disease, but a symptom of a medical disorder or side effect of a type of prescription drug you may be taking. Dry mouth is the inadequate flow of saliva. If you experience a constant sore throat, burning sensation, trouble speaking, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, or dry nasal passage, you may have dry mouth. Be sure to talk to your dentist so that they can recommend methods to restore the moisture in your mouth.
The next time my two-year-old is sticking out his tongue in defiance and "spitting," I will calmly put him on his time-out spot and teach him about why we should not waste saliva. "Miles....let's talk about spit, baby!"
This cutie is my first born, Wyatt. This is one of my favorite pictures from when he was a baby! He is now four years old and has twenty teeth.
You would think that my working at a dentist office would give me the super ability to get my children on a regular hygiene program, and I thought that they would love it and want to brush their teeth.
Reality set in a few months before his first birthday. I was sweating while holding my screaming child in a bear hug to brush his teeth for two minutes, I thought, "Where did I go wrong?" I hand out brochures to our patients with small children that give helpful tips. I've read these things myself over and over. You know what they don't mention? Kids can be stubborn!
When your child is in tears and crying, and you are near that point yourself, it is easy to give up. Hey, they are baby teeth and will be coming out one day anyway...so what if they get a cavity?
Well, it is super important! Primary (baby) teeth are important for development. They are used for chewing, speaking, and appearance. Something has to hold up those chubby cheeks! Another important function that primary teeth serve is that they hold the space in the jaws for permanent teeth. Children will have these teeth for the first few years of their lives. By brushing and flossing (yes, flossing!), you will keep teeth and gums healthy so that the permanent teeth have the optimal environment to erupt.
Baby (without teeth) Care: Even before teeth come in, it is important to take a clean, wet cloth and wipe baby's gums after every feeding to remove plaque and residual food. It also gets your child used to having they mouths checked.
Baby (with teeth) Care: When the first teeth erupt, it is important to clean them regularly. You can use a soft baby tooth brush with only water, or some non-fluoride (training) toothpaste. Until a child can spit, you will want to avoid fluoride toothpaste.
First Dental Visit: We recommend scheduling your child's first dental visit within 6 months after the first tooth erupting. At Alison Jones, D.D.S., we see all ages. In fact, Dr. Jones LOVES when pediatric patients visit. We try to make the first visit very easy. She thinks that it is important that your child feels comfortable and relaxed...almost like it is home. She will never push your child through an appointment just to get it over with. She is very encouraging, but if your little one is just not quite ready, we will try again in 6 months.
As much as you want to prepare your child for his/her first dental visit, it sometimes can backfire. Dr. Jones and her hygienists use child-friendly terminology to make it less threatening. It is especially important if you have a history of dental fear and anxiety. It is easy to pass that on to your child by sharing your horror stories. We have wonderful, fun books in our waiting room that would be great to read before an appointment.
When it came time for Wyatt's his first visit, I was nervous. In fact, I timed it so that no other patients would be in the office because I was sure that there would be a lot of screaming and tears. However, I let Dr. Jones (she is also Wyatt's Aunt Ali) lead the appointment. I sat in the chair with him on my lap and we got through it! Success! At his second appointment, I stayed out of the room and he laid in the big chair by himself and let Dr. Jones clean his teeth with no problems. Big Success!
Wyatt has gotten a lot better since the days of the bear-hug tooth cleaning sessions. We still have our moments (especially when he is overly tired). But, he knows that "sugar bugs" are bad and wants them off his teeth and to spit them down the drain.
If your little one is ready for a visit, call us!
Ali Jones, D.D.S. - Dentist