Congratulations. You’ve got teeth. Now what? You made it through the teething years with a minimum of discomfort (or maybe there was alot, you should ask your Mom how many nights you kept her awake with your sore gums) but now you’re wondering “what do I do now to properly care for my teeth?” Do I have to floss and brush every day? Is it three times a day or after every meal and snack? Is there such a thing as too much? Phew……that’s a lot of questions!
Tooth care “has come a long way baby!” No longer, for example is it fashionable for women to have their teeth filed. Reviewing historical records we found many indigenous cultures filed teeth for a variety of reasons including spiritual and/or as a rite of passage. Purportedly, even as recently as the early 80’s, the Lead Singer of Twisted Sister had his incisors sharpened! In the Victorian era, people were warned against the “Evils of tooth-picks, tooth-brushes, and dentrifices, which ruin the teeth of almost everybody who uses them!” (1) In a sign of just how much times have changed, at one time, having rotten teeth was actually a sign that you were “well to do” and able to afford the types of sugary confections that lead to bad teeth! More recently, contestants on Survivor have been filmed using a stick to clean their teeth! With the history of tooth care so varied, no wonder we question what is it that we actually should do? Dr. Corazza is on the forefront of providing solid, useful and well-meaning advice on healthy teeth. So, while the historical facts are interesting, here, he says, are the real reasons” to care or not to care…”
Teeth are strong, durable and wear well. Typically they will outlast us but they have a much better chance of doing so when we care for them properly. It is important that we become BFF’s with our teeth. Brush, floss and flush regularly. From the moment we see teeth emerging from those swollen little gums it is important to initiate good dental hygiene. Parents of infants can run their fingers along the teeth, “brushing” away debris, with or without toothpaste. Children as young as 18 months can start holding a toothbrush and/or parents can brush teeth for their youngster. No special “kids” toothpaste is required but “if it encourages an interest in brushing, go for it” says Dr. Corazza. Whether SpongeBob or Dora is the inspiration, the point is that brushing is good so go ahead. Any little gimmick like egg timers are again not required but if that’s what excites your little one then by all means employ them as a useful tool in your “encouragement arsenal.”
As we get older, the answers to those tough questions posed in the first paragraph are simple: Yes, it’s a good idea, ideally, no and it’s not a lot of work if you’ve developed great tooth habits over your lifetime! If your memory needs assistance and you’re wondering what those questions were, here they are neatly summarized for you as “tooth care in a nutshell:”
Do I have to floss and brush every day? YES
Three times a day? IT’S A GOOD IDEA
After every meal and snack? IDEALLY
How much is too much? THERE REALLY IS NO SUCH THING!