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Kid Dental Myths

An expert offers the truth about how you should care for your child's teeth.

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-So what's worst for your kid's teeth? Candy or crackers? But the answer really might surprise you. It surprised me. The president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, Dr. Beverly Largent and is here with the answer and to dispel some common myths about caring for your kid's teeth. We're so glad you're here with us today. -Thank you. It's wonderful to be here. -Well, we have a lot of questions because I think Moms and Dads have a lot of misconceptions about their children's dental care. And I think some of the things that they do and maybe that I'm doing could actually harm our kid's teeth. So, let's answer some questions starting with the one I already mentioned. I would think that chocolate and caramel would be worst than crackers. No? Yes? -No, not always. -Really? -The chocolate and the caramel obviously have a lot of sugar in them. But crackers are carbohydrates also, and they stick to the teeth. -Okay. So, having one of these or having a caramel-- and you would choose the caramel? -I think both of these could be a problem for your child's teeth. -Okay. -Let say, you're eating snacks in between meals. Certainly, the caramels and the chocolate are as damaging as the cracker. -But it's the cracker that's sticking to the teeth for longer and not being washed away. -Correct. -That's the problem. Okay-- very interesting to know. Now, also, it's not just sugar that causes cavity. So, it's not just the candies and just the caramels. It's other things too, like what? -Like the carbohydrates in the pretzels and the pastas are carbohydrates that can support tooth decay. So, we want to limit those items to meal times and certainly not have them as in-between meal snacks. -Okay. And obviously, brushing after meals is gonna help out a lot here. -Absolutely. -And maybe drinking water or drinking things that will flush it out of your teeth. -We want that carbohydrates-- the sugars, all of those things to be washed off our teeth. Certainly, we can't always brush after every meal and drinking water is a great help. -Okay, so speaking of beverages. I know that some Moms and Dads stay away from chocolate milk 'cause they think it's too much sugar-- bad for their teeth. What's the truth? -Well, the truth is, both the chocolate milk and the white milk have equal amounts of vitamins, minerals, the calcium that we need. So, if your child is having a very difficult time drinking milk. You might offer the chocolate milk. Certainly, we would not want your child to sip on either of these milks all day long. But the chocolate milk is as effective as the white milk, and I don't think parents really have to be concerned about those added sugars. -So, the chocolate milk washes off the teeth just the same as the-- -As the white. Yes. -Regular milk washes off. Okay, so really not an issue. That's my kid's are gonna be so happy to hear that. You've made us very excited. Okay, just keeping with beverages now-- water. Bottled water is what a lot of parents are going with rather than from the tap. But, what's the problem there? -The problem is that fluoride is the best cavity fighting product that we have on the market. Fluoride is in tap water. So, if you can encourage your child to drink tap water that has fluoride, you're miles ahead. Now, if your child chooses bottled water, you might want to choose the bottle that has fluoride in it so that you can purchase the bottled water with fluoride for your child. -And they sell them just like this in great convenient sizes-- small sizes for children. -Yes. -So that's a great idea. Also, you could filter your tap water which has fluoride as well. -Typically, the filters don't filter out fluoride. -Right. -So, filtered tap water is effective. -Okay, great. Now, this is something that were so surprising to me. You can actually catch a cavity. Who knew? It's like just, like a cold? -Who knew-- yes. Just like a cold. Parents who have decay-causing germs in their mouth can actually give them to their children, and that happens when parents share utensils or cups or pre-taste their child's food. Sometimes, I've seen Moms clean pacifiers in their mouths. -Oh, my goodness. Not a good idea. -Yeah, so all of those things can transfer the bacteria in an adult's mouth to the child's mouth because children aren't born with decay-causing bacteria in their mouth. -So, it's really never safe to share a cup with your child? -Yeah. -Okay. Well, that's something that I didn't know, so that's great information. I think with times being really tough right now. A lot of people are not taking their kids for that 6-month cleaning at the dentist because they might not have dental insurance. Those such important appointments-- if you can't, is there anything else you can do and what should you be looking for in doing at home to make sure you're doing the best you can for your kid's dental health? -Certainly, if you can't go to the dentist, and I personally view that as a very sad thing. Then, you want to make certain that an adult is brushing a child's teeth every day. You absolutely must keep those teeth cleaned. You must use the dental floss between the teeth if the teeth touched together. There are other things that you can use like fluorides; fluorides in the toothpaste, fluorides in mouthwash. And I would encourage people if it all possible to go to the dentist every six months because we can find cavities when they're very, very small. And that is much less expensive than cavities that are large. And sometimes, those large cavities caused children pain. -And you've brought with you a couple of different toothbrushes here and some fluoride-- and I love the fluoride that you've brought today, because this not only makes it exciting for kids, but it tells them what? -How long to rinse? Fluorides in mouthwashes are good way to deliver fluoride. It's an extra punch if you're using fluoride-added toothpaste and the mouthwash-- -Right. -And this helps the children, obviously, that's very exciting for kids so they can watch the lights and now how long to rinse. -As long as it's flushing, that's how long you should be. -That's how long you rinse. -Okay. Just very quickly 'cause we're almost out of time. There are places that you can get help and assistance if you don't have insurance. -That is true. I would certainly check with the family services in my community because there's as cheap in medicate in most states that provide four dentalcare for children. Also check with your local health department because they may know about areas that have grants that will help you with your children's healthcare. Also check for dental schools in your area because you can get high quality dental care at reduced fees. -Dr. Largent, thank you so much. Great information, a lot of stuff that I think we didn't know. So, I appreciate you coming in and if you have questions about your child's dental health, you can check out the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry website at aapd.org. Thanks for watching and we'll see you soon.