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Raising Kids with Healthy Teeth While Keeping "Dental Dollars" in YOUR Pocket

Protect The Precious: Your Baby's First Year

Many people assume that children develop dental disease at the age of 4 to 6 years. The ADA's figures show that one half of all 2 year olds already have tooth decay.

When does the decay process start? It is logical to assume that it takes some time be¬fore the actual evidence of decay. When your baby is born the mouth is essentially sterile. So the process that leads to decay starts shortly after birth.

Yet, who gives any consideration to the de¬cay process at this point? Until now, nobody! That's the reason for this article which you now have in front of you - because this article tells you how to stop the decay process before it starts!

The most critical year regarding dental health in a lifetime is the first year- birth to age one. It is the year that the decay-producing bacteria develop and grow to large numbers in the mouth (Many thousands per milliliter of saliva).

Methods to keep the dental disease process from beginning in the first year of life.

A. 1. Be sure to feed baby a balanced diet - restricting the amounts of sugar (this includes all fermentable sugars, such as found in fruit juices, honey, etc.).

Mothers should pay close attention to your baby's diet. To build healthy, strong bodies we must provide the proper nutrition. A very young baby's needs are simple - milk is the basis of his diet.

An important point we'd like to make here is to limit the amount of sugar in your baby's diet. Remember, we help create a taste for sweets at a very young age. There is a tremendous amount of sugar in processed foods and many prepared formulas have excess sugar. Statistics show that the average American consumes 120 pounds of sugar a year. The American pioneer consumed only 10 pounds per year - that's an increase of 1200%! (This figure has increased 28% since this article was originally written.)

2. Avoid putting your child to bed with a bottle.

A common error that mothers often make is to put baby to bed with a bottle. The child falls asleep quietly with a mouth coated with milk, juice or some sweetened liquid. This alters the ecology of the mouth in such a way that it begins to develop higher and higher levels of bacteria that thrive on sugar. If this practice continues it can lead to high levels of decay-producing bacteria by the time the teeth appear. Therefore these teeth become exposed to a hostile environment that was de¬veloped the first year or two of life which in most cases leads to decay in these first precious teeth.

B. Another more critical factor is KEEPING THE MOUTH CLEAN even before teeth arrive.

1. Swab out your baby's mouth with a 2" x 2" gauze square (purchased at any drug store) every day after meals and before bed.

2. Once the teeth arrive, continue to wipe out the mouth with a gauze square. Now, these teeth should be brushed with a small soft-bristled brush. Continue to clean baby's mouth with a soft brush after meals and before bed.

Here lies an extremely important key to keeping baby's mouth healthy.

3. Purchase Oral-B Satin Tape at any drug store.

Once a day, preferably before baby's bedtime, clean between each of baby's teeth with the tape.

A way that we have found successful is to sit on a couch or floor with your baby's head in your lap and a light from a table lamp shining over one shoulder. Starting from the farthest tooth on one side work the tape between teeth and using a back and forth motion, like you were polishing shoes, clean each of baby's teeth.

Oral-B Satin Tape is a wonderful product for cleaning between the teeth at any age. It is wide, ribbon-like and is less likely to cut into the gums like ‘string’ floss.

4. Visit the dentist by the age of one year.

Find a dentist who is extremely interested in preventing dental disease and take your baby for his or her first check-up by the age of one year.

If you would devote just five minutes a day to keeping your child's mouth clean you will be giving that child a most valuable asset - a healthy mouth.

OUTLINE OF IMPORTANT STEPS

1. Feed your baby a balanced and appropriate diet - restricting sweets.

2. Avoid putting baby to bed with a bottle.

3. Clean baby's mouth with a gauze square each day - after meals and be¬fore bed.

4. As teeth appear, clean teeth with a soft tooth brush before bedtime each day.

5. Use a tape-type floss daily.

6. Find a dentist to whom prevention is the most important phase of his prac¬tice and take baby to him at the age of one year.

The Trying Years: Ages 1 - 4

A message about good dental health is probably more important to mothers of young children than to anyone else in our world today. We have titled this section, ‘The Trying Years,’ meaning the childhood period from age one to four. At age one the youngster can get around the house well enough to be able to get into everything. Children at this age are very curious, but unfortunately do not know the difference between a hot stove and a cold one, or the difference between grape juice and shoe polish.

As any mother can tell you, little ones at this age need constant attention and supervision. Mothers are well versed in custodial tasks such as cleaning noses and bottoms but unfortunately, seldom do they clean mouths and teeth. WHY? Not because they are negligent, but because no one has ever made this an important thing to do. You should review the previous section called, ‘Protect the Precious’ it is designed to convey a message about oral health from birth to one's first birthday. This message, ‘The Trying Years,’ is designed to help young mother properly care for her children's teeth from age one to age four.

There are many small, soft tooth brushes available, specifically designed for children ages one to four. Avoid the electric gadgets and let your child get accustomed to proper manual brushing.

Begin a gentle brushing motion WITHOUT using any toothpaste. At this age toothpaste is of no value; it will only irritate the youngster's mouth because most flavoring agents are too strong for the sensitive linings of mouths of children this young. Plus the fact that this position of cleaning is not conducive to a lot of foaming action as it would, tend to bother the child and make a mess of the family room or living room.

All surfaces should be gently cleaned, inside and out, front and back... Once you have tried this method you will find it to be quite easy. The amount of time it takes is not as important as feeling satisfied that you have cleaned all areas thoroughly.

At age one this means cleaning usually the eight front teeth that exist in the mouth at this age. By age two, usually all twenty baby teeth have grown into the mouth.

Waiting until your child can brush his or her own teeth is too late. By the time the 20 baby teeth have arrived in the mouth over 1/2 of all American children already have decay.

Use the Satin Tape to cleanse spaces not reached by the toothbrush. These so called 'interproximal spaces' collect food and bacteria and must be cleaned along with the tooth brushing.

While cleaning your child's teeth keep a constant lookout for anything that looks like decay (brown areas or defects in the enamel). If you detect anything that looks like early decay, it may indicate the presence and levels of bacteria considered as high risk factors for more advanced decay such as gingivitis, and later stage periodontal disease. It is claimed that 30% of all American children already have these pathogens present in the mouth and they have been found in children as young as three years old. Getting an early start in controlling these critters will do a world of good for your child now and in later years. If you do identify visible decay on the tooth enamel, you could make a wise assumption that strep mutans is already present and in levels high enough to start doing obvious damage.

Continue at least daily cleaning of your child's teeth until the child can begin to partly take over. Some children are able to assume this responsibility earlier than others. Those who have been exposed to this method from birth will be better able to begin taking care of themselves at an earlier age. When the child begins to use the brush and tape for himself he will need careful supervision for quite some time.

It is IMPORTANT to establish a basis of good oral ecology - the child's future depends upon keeping his or her mouth free from the germs that cause decay. Now, if you are ahead of the game, this new approach heads off the problem before it ever starts.

This is the essence of Oramedics, stopping the disease and therefore eliminating fear and needless expense.

The Transition Years

A great deal takes place in the development of a child between the ages of 4 and 12. It is one of life's marvelously exciting periods of time. This is the time during our lives that we begin to learn what it is going to be like when we are no longer children. It is a time during life that youngsters want to be treated more and more like grown-ups except, of course, when trouble arises and the security of returning to childlike behavior gains us the needed protection. We begin to mock grown ups, we begin to talk like them and act like them.

During this impressionable time adults can greatly influence children's eventual adult behavior. This is very true when it comes to the hygiene of the body. During this time youngsters learn the benefits of taking a bath periodically, sometimes not willingly, but learning nevertheless. So, too, during this impressionable time, youngsters can gain immensely in the realm of learning correct oral hygiene, if they are taught properly.

This article is written to help parents encourage their youngsters to enjoy the benefits of a clean and healthy mouth. It would be best for the reader to review two precursors to this article: ‘Protect the Precious,’ and ‘The Trying Years.’ ‘Protect The Precious’ conveys pertinent information concerning oral health of youngsters from birth to age one. ‘The Trying Years’ carries along the message from age one to age four. These two messages should be evaluated carefully for the necessary background making this publication even more meaningful.

As was related in ‘The Trying Years,’ a youngster's ability to begin assuming some of his own oral hygiene responsibilities varies widely from child to child. Many youngsters begin to learn by age two. Most, however, probably approach the age of about four or five before their efforts are going to be of much significance. Therefore, the main message of this article is to encourage the parent to slowly teach the child how to gradually take over the responsibility of thoroughly cleaning his or her own mouths. The key concepts are simply supervision and motivation: as the previous articles related to the parent just what was necessary for a healthy mouth, this piece of material is designed to help the parent teach these things to the child.

The basic approach is supervision, with the major ingredient being a whole lot of loving patience. Keeping a mouth clean is not an easy job - that is the main reason why most people do it so poorly. However, if taught at a young age in the right way the apparent difficulties are readily overcome. There is probably no other basic health message that can be taught at this age that has more lifetime importance and significance.

The correct efforts on the part of the parents during these years can mean a lifetime of freedom from dental disease. There will be very few adult readers of this article who won't appreciate just how wonderful it would have been to have had such a message themselves and been able to avoid their own lifetime of problems. (Hallelujah.)

As in the previous two articles, the first thing to consider is what are the correct instruments or tools to carry out this project. The first and most important is the toothbrush. After years of careful consideration, Oramedics International has selected the Butler #111 Junior Toothbrush as the most effective brush for children of approximately age 4 to age 10. By the age of about 10 years to 12 years the recommended brush is The Butler #311.

You will need, of course, as previously recommended, a continued supply of disclosing tablets. Any brand here will suffice. You will also need a continual supply of Dental Tape - children have a particularly difficult time with the older style of conventional unwaxed dental floss, as it hurts their fingers and tends to cut their gums. You will also need a source of light and a mirror plus an intra-oral mirror so that the youngster can begin to see what he or she is doing, along with the parent's help. The cost of these units is but a small investment when one considers how much money can be saved by using the ‘Oramedics’ Program.

With the help of these suggested supplies along with the right concepts plus the addition of a very determined parent, we can accomplish the goal. That goal is perfectly clean teeth. This is good, because perfectly clean teeth don't decay.

We recommend that the best approach is to let the child take it "at his or her own speed", so to speak. Since the parent has been the main source of tooth cleaning effort up to this point, it is important to emphasize that the parent still remain responsible for the end result. By offering as much encouragement as possible but recognizing that the child will achieve less than adequate results, the parent will likely have to step in initially to see that the job is completed properly. This is why we have called this article 'The Transition Years.' It means just what it says, a slow transfer of information and skills from the parent to the child, the parent still retaining the total responsibility that at least once each day the youngster's teeth are completely and immaculately clean; that includes the inside of the teeth, the outside of the teeth, the biting surfaces, and those important areas in-between each and every tooth.

Of special interest to the parent during these years - the child will be going through what the dentist calls the mixed dentition stage. This means that the child will soon be experiencing both the presence of the baby teeth and the permanent teeth simultaneously. It is an exciting time from the dental standpoint because this tiny mouth will be attempting to negotiate the presence of 52 teeth. This pint-sized person at this age has more teeth in his mouth than he will have at any other time during his life. The coming of the permanent teeth and the going of the baby teeth is a miracle in itself, another reason we have called this publication 'The Transition Years.' Not only is the responsibility for who is going to clean the mouth changing, but also the teeth themselves are changing.

The first permanent teeth to appear in the mouth are usually the 6 year molars. Sometimes called the first permanent molars, they grow into the mouth immediately distal - or in other words - behind the 20 existing baby teeth. These permanent teeth called 6 year molars are frequently mistaken for baby teeth. The reason that many times parents assume these to be baby teeth is that their eruption into the mouth is not associated with the loss of or exfoliation of any baby teeth. They simply grow in further back in the mouth than the positions occupied by the baby teeth. The child will now have 24 teeth visible in the mouth, the 20 teeth towards the front being baby teeth, soon to come out, and the 4 large molars farthest in the back are intended to last for life. (Don't forget that!)

About this same time or not too long afterwards the baby teeth in front will begin to loosen and come out. The permanent teeth erupting from below the baby teeth usually cause the roots of the baby teeth to resorb away, so that the baby teeth either fall out on their own or are removed by the child or parent with very little effort. By the time they come out usually there is little more than just a small amount of tissue fibers holding them in place. It is important to note that in the eruption of the front teeth, particularly the lower front teeth, that the permanent teeth frequently tend to grow in behind the existing baby teeth. This sometimes causes concern on the part of many parents, as the teeth appear to be coming in crooked, and or in the wrong place. Generally this is not a matter of concern because the baby teeth normally come out on their own making space for the permanent teeth to grow forward into their proper positions.

Children at this age frequently enjoy that "toothless awkward grin stage". However, a healthy child soon grows new permanent teeth to fill the gap, a particular satisfaction for youngsters as psychologically it gives them a more grown up appearance and therefore a more adult-like feeling about themselves.

It is about this time that we will have 8 permanent front teeth in place, four on top and four on the bottom, 4 six year molars in the back, and 3 remaining baby teeth in each section of the mouth sitting there happily with permanent teeth in the front and permanent teeth to the back of them. So that about the age of 9 years, the child has 12 permanent teeth in place and 12 baby teeth still in place. The exact age at this stage can vary as much as plus or minus one year.

This is a very important time in the youngster's growth and development dentally, because any problems with the teeth at this age can have lifetime ramifications. If the teeth are severely decayed, if infection exists, if teeth are knocked out due to accidents (not uncommon at this age) or any other circumstances that interferes with the normal transition, can cause serious orthodontic problems. This period is so critical in the child's growth and development that Oramedics International has designed and written a specific article which deals with this situation. The article (following) is titled, ‘$aving Orthodontic Dollars.’ If you have a child approaching this age be sure to read this material and read it carefully. You could be saving your child a lot of difficulty and saving yourself a lot of inconvenience and money.

By this time in your child's life, about the age of 9 years, most children should be able to assume the day-to-day responsibilities of seeing to it that his or her mouth is scrupulously clean at least once in every day. Routine cleaning after every meal is highly advisable. But a thorough cleaning once each day is essential. If good oral ecology is to be maintained it is probably still advisable for the parent to spot-check the thoroughness of the child's cleaning habits on maybe a weekly basis. Pick a convenient day of the week when the family household experiences the least amount of hassle, for example: Sunday evening may be a bit quieter than other evenings. It is advisable to establish a habit pattern where every Sunday night after Junior does his routine, Mom or Dad checks him out with a disclosing tablet. This seems to be the only guaranteed way to insure continuity in the youngster's oral hygiene program. If the youngster is not passing these weekly check points with flying colors, then it is high time Mom or Dad, or older brother or sister, steps in to reinforce either the lack of motivation or the shortage of ability to get them (the teeth) properly and thoroughly clean.

From ages 4-12 it is probably advisable to continue a program of periodic plaque testing. If the conditions of the oral ecology are favorable, yearly plaque testing is probably adequate. If conditions are not A-1, plaque testing on a more frequent basis is highly recommended.

If you and your child have been working together using the right concepts and techniques, dental disease should be non-existent. This message has strongly emphasized the importance of ideal oral hygiene. We have not overlooked the importance of nutrition and would like to emphasize here that throughout life, good nutrition is an extremely important factor in achieving dental and oral health, in general.

The child of age 9, plus or minus one year, has 12 permanent teeth and 12 baby teeth. During the next 4 to 5 years these 12 baby teeth will slowly loosen up and come out to be replaced by permanent bicuspids and cuspids giving the child a full compliment of adult teeth by age 12 or 13 (with the exception of the 3rd molars or wisdom teeth that arrive in the mouth sometime during the youngster's teens if space is available - if not, the teeth become impacted.)

This pretty much concludes the effort on the part of Oramedics International to relate the specifics of the Oramedics approach as it pertains to young people, with the exception of orthodontics, covered next.

$aving Orthodontic Dollars

If given the choice between two tools, both equally suited to accomplishing the task, which one would you choose? Suppose, then, that one tool costs five dollars, the other costs a hundred. That makes the choice much simpler, doesn't it? You would most assuredly choose the five dollar tool.

This is precisely the choice you have available to you regarding orthodontic care. Most of us know about the expensive tool; braces, wires, etc. Many complicated cases involving orthodontic care can rip open your wallet for sums in excess of SEVERAL THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS per patient.

"Ouch! My ailing bank account!" we can hear you crying.

Suppose, for an investment of five percent or less of that "Ouch!" amount, you could minimize or totally prevent the need for orthodontic care? Interested?

NEW APPROACH TO OLD PROBLEM

A simple test, utilized by only a small minority of dentists in America, can effectively predict orthodontic problems BEFORE THEY OCCUR.

The test is called a Mixed Dentition Analysis. By utilizing this test when your child is six to eight years old, your dentist can accurately predict the future problems and take steps to prevent them from happening.

The portion of the test directly involving the patient is short and uncomplicated. An impression is taken of the patient's tooth structure. From this impression, a study model which duplicates the patient's oral alignment and tooth size is constructed.

Using this study model, the dentist can measure the sizes of permanent teeth already in place. Using these measurements, he can accurately estimate the amount of space that is required for the remaining permanent teeth to come in correctly.

CAUSE AND TREATMENT

The most common cause of misalignment in teeth is the lack of ample space for proper development to occur. Just as a square peg won't go into a round hole, too many teeth that are too large for the given space create problems.

The pattern for future dental progression begins forming many months before your child is born. Many complex genetic factors come together to affect the child's future dental alignment.

By taking measurements from the study model, combined with visual checks of profile and bite alignments, your dentist can predict, with a reasonable degree of accuracy, the chance for future orthodontic problems.

If his assessment reveals a space shortage, he can take steps to cure or limit the scope of orthodontic problems. By selective removal of baby teeth and permanent teeth, he can assure adequate space for teeth to enter in proper alignment. If the situation has progressed so that some problems have developed, minor corrective measures may be temporarily needed.

Except in rare cases, the use of complex, extensive orthodontic appliances is practically eliminated. In all cases, orthodontic care can be greatly simplified and of shorter duration, therefore saving money.

THE ERA OF STRAIGHT TEETH

Realistically, we can project a future where straight teeth are the rule. By taking preventive measures early in the game, the need for orthodontic appliances could be virtually eliminated.

Aside from the obvious financial advantage gained by this plan, there are other less visible advantages to consider.

This plan takes advantage of natural human development. This permits a better anchoring of the roots into the supporting bone structure. Any forced movement of teeth can be injurious to the structure below the gum line.

In extensive orthodontic cases, a problem called root resorption can take place. Root resorption is a wearing down of the naturally sharp points of the roots. This means the teeth will NEVER anchor themselves as well as they would have, if left undisturbed.

In addition, there is the hygiene problem. With the presence of braces and wires in the mouth, adequate cleansing measures are very difficult to perform.

As a direct result, extensive decay is often found beneath the braces when they are removed. In addition to the possible pain for your child, here is more dental expense.

Your child's teen years will be a difficult period of profound psychological change. "Coming of Age" is a turning point for all of us. The changes, both physical and mental, come together to shape the adult personality.

The psychological pressure created by orthodontic devices, particularly the degree of harassment by peers, is a tragic and preventable burden for your child.

THE KEY IS PREVENTION

Most of these problems could be avoided, if early action is taken. This simple, painless test can lead the way to preventing all the problems that have been outlined in this booklet.

Consult your dentist today. Ask him to perform the Mixed Dentition Analysis* for your child. This small investment can lead to a lifetime that is free of orthodontic problems.

If your dentist is presently unacquainted with the test procedure, he can get the information from recognized reference sources*.

Do it TODAY!

*Handbook of Orthodontics by Dr. Robert E. Moyers Year Book Publishers, Inc. 200 E. Illinois Street; Chicago, Illinois C 1988
Search Topic Online: http://www.angle.org/anglonline/?request=search-simple

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This series of articles was written by Dr Robert and Ruth Nara and was provided by the OraMedia Site for Dental Self Sufficiency,
published by Tom Cornwell. The OraMedia site is based primarily on the work of Dr Robert O. Nara, a Michigan dentist (retired) and founder of Oramedics, International, who felt it was important to teach patients real dental prevention and in doing so, suffered at the hands of the dental profession for what he revealed about the profession and his empowerment of the individual to heal the teeth and gums without or with little professional intervention.

See also: 'Do I Really Need a Root Canal?' and 'Freedom From Dental Disease'