For over five decades, the American Dental Association has continuously endorsed the fluoridation of community water supplies and the use of fluoride-containing products as safe and effective measures for preventing tooth decay.The majority of bottled waters on the market do not contain optimal levels (0.7-1.2 ppm) of fluoride. And, some types of home water treatment systems can reduce the fluoride levels in water supplies potentially decreasing the decay-preventive effects of optimally fluoridated water.
Start early — as soon as your baby’s first tooth erupts — so he gets used to the feeling of having something in his mouth, says Monica Cipes, D.M.D., a pediatric dentist in West Hartford, Connecticut. Once your child is around age 2, instead of standing in front of him to brush, have him sit on your lap or stand facing away from you. Then tell him to lean his head back, resting it on your chest. This way you can actually see his teeth better and you’re less likely to gag him, Dr. Cipes says.
Use just a tiny smear of fluoridated toothpaste — it’s best for fighting cavities. Plus, it’s not as sweet as fluoride-free paste, so your child will be less tempted to clamp down on the brush and suck. For preschoolers, give them a high five when they’re being cooperative. And older kids will probably like chewable tablets and colorful rinses that show them the areas that they need to brush better.
You can also set yourselves up for success by letting your child pick out a toothbrush he likes, such as one that features his favorite character, or try a battery-operated model. Then make a silly game out of brushing: Have a chat with the “cavity germs” in your child’s mouth, suggests Conway, Arkansas, mom Karen Mann, who says things like, “I am going to get you, cavity germs! You are not going to make holes in Sophia’s teeth.” Then Mann switches to a high-pitched voice for the cavity germs: “Oh no, please don’t get us! We’re having a picnic in here.” If your child tries to grab the toothbrush from you, buy a second one and give him his own to hold.
Research suggests a strong link between plaque on your teeth and heart disease. The plaque harbors bacteria, and many medical experts believe that when the bacteria enter your bloodstream, they help form blood clots in your coronary arteries, which can cause heart attacks. Or the bacteria in the mouth may weaken your immune system and cause chronic inflamation throughout the entire body-including the coronary arteries. This inflammation in turn contributes to hardening of the arteries.
Another reason to keep your mouth healthy: Recent research has also shown that chronic low-grade oral infections are linked to premature deliveries and lower birth weight in newborns.
So you have more good reasons to practice good oral hygiene and see your dentist regularly.