It's a battle to get kids to brush well and for long enough! And it's a chore going to the dentist. Our children's dental health is important! What do we as parents need to focus on? Why do we need the services that the dentist offers? Is there a way to prevent expensive procedures in the future?
Since my kids just went to the dentist, I took the opportunity to request an interview with Dr. Joshua Ricker of Hannibal Dental Group. He generously took the time to answer all my (and my friends') questions. Dr. Ricker's answers will help you to know the easiest way to keep your kids' teeth healthy, for less money and with less frustration and stress!
Disclaimer: Yep, there are affiliate links. For stuff that I would recommend anyways. If you buy from the affiliate links, Amazon will give me a TIIIIINY percentage from your order. It costs you nothing!
My Dental Questions, Answered
Jen: Talk to me about toothpastes. Is there one that’s best? Does it really matter? Or is quality and quantity of brushing and flossing more important?
Dr. Ricker: There is an overwhelming list of available toothpastes these days. There are some toothpastes that might be better for specific situations such as sensitivity relief or whitening. Unless you are looking for something specific like that, I recommend finding a fluoride toothpaste that has the ADA seal of approval on the packaging. I would say the quality of brushing and flossing are more important than the toothpaste itself.
Jen: I hear about the benefits of preventative care a lot. How much can we save if we’re diligent about daily oral hygiene and routine visits to the dentist? Is that important? Will it prevent expensive procedures down the road?
Dr. Ricker: Routine dental visits are extremely important and often overlooked. There are a lot of people that only go to the dentist when something hurts. When a patient comes into the office routinely, we typically can fix problem areas before they become symptomatic. This also saves a lot of money. I have seen several cases where patients have delayed getting a cavity fixed with a filling and they end up needing a root canal and crown. What would have cost them a few hundred dollars is now costing them a couple thousand!
Jen: Why do kids need fluoride? Why is it beneficial? Don’t we have fluoride in our water and toothpastes? Why do kids need treatments?
Dr. Ricker: Fluoride is important because it strengthens the enamel and makes the enamel more resistant to acid breakdown. It is helpful in preventing dental decay as well as strengthening enamel when decay has started. Most public water supplies have fluoride added. It is estimated that adding fluoride to public water reduces dental decay by approximately 25%. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has stated fluoride is one of the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century.
Jen: What are the pros and cons of sealants? At what age should kids be getting them?
Dr. Ricker: Sealants are a protective barrier added to the chewing surfaces of molars. The benefit is they prevent food particles from getting trapped deep down in the pits and fissures of molars and thus helps prevent decay. Children typically have their permanent first molars erupt around age 6. Children should have sealants placed as soon as the molars have fully erupted. Studies have estimated sealing permanent molars reduces the risk of pit and fissure decay by approximately 80%.
Jen: Why do kids molars come in yellow? They’re brand new teeth!
Dr. Ricker: I have had this question asked numerous times. The primary teeth or baby teeth are extremely bright and do not have much of a yellow shade. Most adults have teeth with some type of yellow shade. The appearance of permanent teeth appear very yellow when compared to the primary teeth.
Jen: Sugar. What’s the real deal about it in relation to our dental health? My kids aren’t the greatest brushers, but they’ve never had any cavities and it makes me think it’s because we strictly limit sugar. What’s your opinion?
Dr. Ricker: People who have a diet rich in sugars are more likely to develop dental decay than those who have very little sugar in their diet. The same is true of starches. Snacks like potato chips are high in starch and more likely to cause decay than yogurt, cheese, or vegetables. Soda and juice drinks are two of the biggest causes of decay in children that I see. They both have a lot of sugar content and are also very acidic which is tough on our enamel.
Jen: It's tricky to get kids brushing correctly and for the full 2 minutes. Do you know of any tricks or resources that might help parents in this battle?
Dr. Ricker: The use of a timer seems to work the best for my children. Most electric or battery powered toothbrushes have built in timers that work great.
Here are some products that we use that work great!
Jen: Do you have anything to add?
Dr. Ricker: All of the previously discussed topics are very important in maintaining oral health. Regular visits to the dentist, great home care and a healthy diet are all extremely important and if followed can significantly reduce the risk of developing dental decay.
Thanks, Dr. Ricker!
Do you have any questions for Dr. Ricker? Ask them in the comments!
Dr. Joshua Ricker
DDS: University of Missouri School of Dentistry, Kansas City, MO
BS: Psychology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA