oral cavityWhat is this?

Mouth cancer is a highly lethal disease and is one of the most debilitating and disfiguring of all malignancies. It is estimated that two to three Irish people die from the disease every week, which is more than skin melanoma, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma or cervical cancer, and the incidence of the disease is increasing particularly among younger people, particularly in respect of cancer of the tongue.
Oral cancer starts in the cells that line the inside of the mouth, and can form on the lips, inside the cheeks, on the gums, the tongue, the bony palate, or the surfaces underneath the tongue. Lip and oral cancer can occur on any surface lining the lips and oral cavity.

What causes Mouth Cancer?

Research show that smoking and drinking alcohol are the main risk factors and the risk is even greater if a person smokes and drinks. Those who both smoke and drink, have a 15 times greater risk of developing oral cancer than others. A diet deficient in fruit and vegetables also predisposes towards the development of oral cancers and it has been estimated that this may be responsible for 10-15% of cases in Europe. For lip cancers only, over exposure to UV light is implicated.
There is evidence that exposure to second-hand smoke may increase oral cancer, with a 63% risk increase shown for never smokers exposed to SHS at home or at work. Among those exposed at home and at work for more than 15 years, there was an 84% risk increase.

How dangerous is this Mouth Cancer?

The death rate associated with this cancer is particularly high not because it is hard to discover or diagnose, but due to the cancer being routinely discovered late in its development. Often it is only discovered when the cancer has metastasized (spread) to another location, most likely the lymph nodes of the neck.

Who is most at risk of Oral Cancer?

While historically the majority of people are over the age of 40 at the time of discovery, it is now occurring more frequently in those under this age. Exact causes for those affected at a younger age are now becoming clearer in peer reviewed research, revealing a viral aetiology (cause). There are also links to young men and women who use conventional “smokeless” chewing or spit tobacco. Promoted by some as a safer alternative to smoking, it has in actuality not proven to be any safer to those who use it when referring to oral cancers.

Campaigns to promote the safety of smokeless are being initiated, but it is clear that while it may reduce lung cancers, it has a negative effect on the rates of oral cancers, pancreatic cancer, periodontal disease, and the chronic infections that it produces may even link it to heart disease as well. The gains against lung cancers may occur, but there will be new losses in other areas. The jury is out on other new smokeless tobacco dissolvable products, and until their use has acceptable research behind it we recommend avoiding it.

What can your dentist do?

Oral cancer is an ideal cancer to identify early by screening. It is frequently preceded by an identifiable pre-malignant lesion and the progression from dysplasia occurs over a period of 2.5-8 years. However, current analysis of Oral Cancer patients shows that the majority of oral cancers present at an advanced stage (III and IV), when the chances of successful treatment are low.

This may partly be due to the stereotypical oral cancer patient (an elderly male, who abuses tobacco and alcohol) not presenting to his dentist or other health care professional. Our Dentists at Portobello Dental Clinic do an Oral cancer screening at each examination (check-up) visit.

Gender and Oral Cancer:

Interestingly, in this regard there are gender differences between women and men relating to smoking and oral cancer. The relative risk is much higher in women at all levels of smoking. Additionally, it has also been suggested that women may be more susceptible to cancers that are provoked by alcohol.

What are the symptoms of head and neck cancers?

The symptoms of head and neck cancers depend on where the tumour is found. Some common symptoms include:
 A sore or ulcer that does not heal
 Difficulty or pain on chewing and swallowing
 Sore throat, difficulty speaking or a hoarse voice
 Changes in your breathing at rest
 Unexplained loose tooth
 A swelling or lump
 Pain in the face or jaw
 Earache or ringing in the ear or hearing problems
 Numbness
 Blocked or bleeding nose
 White or red patches in the lining of the mouth or on the tongue that do not go away

Uncertain, unproven or controversial risk factors:

Some studies have suggested that mouthwash with a high alcohol content might be linked to a higher risk of oral and oropharyngeal cancers. But recent research has questioned these results. Studying this possible link is complicated by the fact that smokers and frequent drinkers (who already have an increased risk of these cancers) are more likely to use mouthwash than people who neither smoke nor drink.
b-Irritation from dentures
It has been suggested that long-term irritation of the lining of the mouth caused by poorly fitting dentures is a risk factor for oral cancer. But many studies have found no increased risk in denture wearers overall. Since poorly fitting dentures can tend to trap agents that have been proven to cause oral cancer, such as alcohol and tobacco particles, denture wearers should have them checked by a dentist regularly to ensure a good fit. All denture wearers should remove their dentures at night and clean and rinse them thoroughly every day.

c-Irritation from a broken tooth

Any long term irritation of the lining of the mouth—e.g. cheek repeatedly being cut by a broken tooth, can potentially predispose you to Oral Cancer.
d-Human Papilloma Virus infection
Human Papilloma Viruses (HPVs) are a group of more than 100 related viruses. Most HPV types cause warts on various parts of the body, but a few HPV types seem to be involved in Oral Cancer. The current estimate is that HPV may be a factor in about one-fourth of oral and oropharyngeal cancers. People with oral and oropharyngeal cancer linked with HPV infection are less likely to be smokers and drinkers, but oral cancers that contain HPV DNA seem to have a better outlook than those without HPV. Most people with HPV infections of the mouth and throat have no symptoms and only a very small percentage develop oral or oropharyngeal cancer.

Treatments for Oral Cancer:

Small oral cancers respond equally well to either surgery (which is generally very aggressive and disfiguring) or radiation therapy; advanced cancers are treated with both and sometimes with chemotherapy to relieve symptoms. For recurrent cancer, radiation therapy is the primary treatment.


1. For consistent cleaning, children should brush their teeth and gums at the same time every day. The first brushing should take place after breakfast and children should rinse their mouths with an alcohol free mouthwash. The second daily brushing should be just before bed, with no more snacks after this.

2. Only use the recommended amount of toothpaste and ensure all teeth and gums are cleaned thoroughly. Toothpaste should not be swallowed. You can use different sized inter-dental brushes to clean plaque from inaccessible areas.

3. We recommend that parents brush their children’s teeth or help them brush their teeth until they are about six. They need to monitor their brushing until they are about ten. Toothbrushes should be changed every three months.

4. Ensure children eat a healthy diet and reduce their intake of high sugar content foods. What goes into your child’s packed lunch can be very important as they will not have a chance to clean their teeth until they get home from school. Keep snacks between meals to low-sugar or sugar-free foods such as cheese, fruit and nuts.

5. What your child drinks can have just as much effect on their teeth as what they eat. Milk and water are suitable drinks to quench their thirst. Beware of high energy sports drinks as they have a very high sugar content.

6. Children should have visited the dentist before they are 3. If they haven’t been, it’s easy to arrange an appointment.

7. Ensure their visit is a positive one. Children will often take their cue from parents when visiting the dentist. If older brothers and sisters are going to the dentist, bring their younger siblings along so they can see what’s going on, get to know the surroundings and maybe even get a go in the chair.

8. Children’s teeth should be checked 3 times by the public health dentist during primary school. Ensure this is happening.

9. Children at high risk of decay may benefit from fissure sealants on back molar teeth as they come through,normally at about 6 and then again at 12 years of age

10. If contact sports such as football, rugby, hockey or hurling are being played at the school ensure that your child has a mouthguard.


Mouth Ulcers is the term given to the appearance of painful open sores inside the mouth caused by a break in the mucous membrane or the epithelium on the lips or mouth. This is a condition that affects many people of variable ages including teenagers. In fact teenagers are the most frequently affected group, though many experience their first lesions well outside this age range. Usually one to five small ulcers appear (< 1mm wide) on the inside of lips or cheeks, floor of the mouth or tongue. The ulcers tend to be concentrated towards the front of the mouth.

The types of oral ulcers are diverse and are the result from many different causes such as physical or chemical trauma, infection, viruses, medical conditions or medications, cancerous and sometimes non-specific processes. The most common form is called minor aphthous ulceration followed closely by cold sores (Herpes Simplex virus).


Symptoms of an ulcer vary depending on the cause of the ulcerative process. They usually start with a sharp stinging or burning sensation at the site of the impending mouth ulcer. These change in a few days, to a red spot or bump followed by an open ulcer. It will appear usually as a white or yellow oval with a red inflamed area around it. The ulcer which itself can be extremely painful may be accompanied by swollen lymph nodes or jaw which can be mistaken for toothache.

How to treat

We highly recommend Orabase protective paste for aphthous ulcers (this is available over the counter in pharmacies). When used as instructed,  this works really well to help ease the pain associated with Oral sores. If you apply this orabase as soon as you feel an ulcer starting it will help stop it in its tracks. For more severe ulcers or larger/major aphthous ulcers a steroid in the orabase is invaluable-we tend to prescribe Kenalog in these instances.

For cold sores we recommend an anti-viral cream such as Zovirax (available over the counter in pharmacies). Again applying this as soon as you feel the tingle/burning sensation actively stops the progression of the cold sore (this is really only effective when applied before the appearance of any sores/spots). For those of you working in the UK  I recommend  visiting a GP or Dentist there as a drug called Penciclovir is available on prescription, and this works on cold sores evan after they have appeared on your lips/face/nose and is very effective in reducing their duration.

Compeed is also available over the counter in Ireland and the UK and claims to treat cold sores effectively.

It is imperative that you contact your Dentist or your Doctor if any mouth ulcer persists for more than 2 weeks.

WATER or Cola?


1. 75% of us are chronically dehydrated.

2. The thirst mechanism is so weak that it is often mistaken for hunger.

3. Even MILD dehydration will slow down one’s metabolism as much as 3%.

4. A recent study found that one glass of water will shut down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of people

5. Lack of water, is the no.1 trigger of daytime fatigue.

6. Preliminary research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for sufferers.

7. A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic maths, and difficulty focusing at work

8. Drinking 5 glasses of water significantly reduces the risk of colon cancer, breast cancer, and bladder cancer.

And now for the properties of Cola:

1. To clean a toilet: Pour a can of Cola into the toilet bowl and let the “real thing” sit for one hour, then flush clean.
The citric acid in Cola removes stains from vitreous china. Source – according to www.howtocleananything.com, the household hint guru Mary Ellen says some coke in the toilet for an hour can do the trick.

2. To remove rust spots from chrome car bumpers: Rub the bumper with a rumpled-up piece of aluminium foil dipped in Cola.

3. To clean corrosion from car battery terminals: Pour a can of Cola over the terminals to bubble away the corrosion.

4. To loosen a rusted bolt: Applying a cloth soaked in Cola to the rusted bolt for several minutes.

5. To remove grease from clothes: Empty a can of Cola into a load of greasy clothes, add detergent, and run through a regular cycle. The Cola will help loosen grease stains. The grease is gone (but your clothes are brown!)

6. One of the ingredients in the most popular brand of cola is phosphoric acid. Its pH is between 2.4 and 4.2 (depending on the variation). Phosphoric acid leaches calcium from bones and may be a contributor to osteoporosis.

7. To carry Cola syrup (the concentrate) the commercial truck must use the “Hazardous material” place cards reserved for Highly corrosive materials.

Watch for yourself what it does to a tooth!

Now the question is, would you like a cola or a glass of water?

How Do I Care for My Toddler’s Teeth?

Teaching your child good oral habits will be one of the most important health lessons you can teach them. This means helping them brush twice daily, limit sweets and snacks and seeing your dentist regularly.

Most dentists recommend that children start their dental visits by the age of two. In addition to giving your dentist a chance to monitor your child’s dental growth and development, this is your chance to learn about tooth development, the need for fluoride, how to help your child maintain proper oral hygiene, how to deal with your child’s oral habits (such as pacifier use), diet and nutrition, and how to prevent oral injuries.

Teach your child that a dental visit is a positive experience. Explain to your child that visiting the dentist helps maintain good oral health. By maintaining a positive attitude, you’ll increase the chances that your child will see a dentist regularly throughout life.

What Action Should I Take When My Toddler’s Teeth Begin to Erupt?
Teeth start to erupt at about six months onwards, until roughly aged three. This causes many children to have tender gums, which can make them irritable. It helps to rub the gums with your finger, a small cool spoon or a frozen teething ring. There are also pain relief gels and medications available for use when babies are teething. Ask your dentist or GP about these medications. If your child has a high temperature when teething, it’s best to contact your GP to rule out the possibility of some other kind of illness.

What’s the Proper Way to Brush My Toddler’s Teeth?
It’s a good idea to supervise your child’s brushing until the age of six, following the guidelines below:

  1. Use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Take care that your child doesn’t swallow any paste.
  2. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles, brush inside surfaces of all teeth first, where plaque accumulates most. Angle bristles toward the gum line. Brush gently back and forth.
  3. Clean all outside surfaces of teeth. Angle bristles toward the gum line. Brush gently back and forth.
  4. Place brush so bristles are on the chewing surface of the teeth. Brush gently back and forth.

Is Thumb or Finger Sucking a Problem and How Can I Treat it?

The sucking reflex is normal and healthy in babies. However, a thumb or finger sucking habit can cause problems with the growth of the mouth and jaw, and position of teeth, if it continues after permanent teeth have erupted, between four and seven years of age. Front teeth that point outwards (sometimes called buck teeth) and an open bite may result from habitual thumb or finger sucking. This can cause problems in adulthood that include premature tooth wear, increased dental decay and discomfort on biting. Sucking on pacifiers after permanent teeth have erupted may cause similar problems.

The best way to deal with thumb or finger sucking is through positive reinforcement, not negative words. Your child is only doing what feels natural to him or her. Praise your child when he is not sucking his thumb/finger. You may also want to focus on correcting the anxiety that’s causing your child to suck her thumb/finger. You can remind your child of the habit by bandaging the thumb/finger, or putting on a sock over their hand at night. Bitter-tasting medication to coat the thumb can also be prescribed by your dentist or GP.

Do you know which of these is true?

  • Eating acidic things like lemons causes cavities.
  • If you have a cavity, you’ll generally know it.
  • Once you treat a cavity, the tooth decay stops.
  • If you brush your teeth properly, you won’t get decay.

1. Sugar Is the Prime Cause of Cavities

True (sort of!). It’s actually the acid produced by the bacteria in your mouth that causes cavities. Bacteria need fuel, and the refined sugar (sucrose) found in sweets, biscuits and carbonated drinks is an excellent source of fuel for those cavity-causing bugs.

Once exposed to sugar, the bacteria become active and produce acid that then eats into your tooth. Once they do that, they now have a nice little hole to live in where your toothbrush and floss can’t reach. The bacteria continue to metabolise the sugary fuel, produce acids, and your cavity just keeps getting bigger.

2. If you brush your teeth properly, you won’t get decay

False. Good oral hygiene helps to prevent decay, but if you have a sugar-rich diet, then you still can, and probably will, get cavities in the fissures and inaccessible areas of your teeth.

Also, it’s not the amount of carbohydrates you eat that causes tooth decay, but the length of time your teeth are exposed. If you eat a lot of carbs for lunch, that’s one big exposure. But if you spend the day sipping sugary drinks, that’s continuous exposure — and much more dangerous for your teeth.

“Snack all day and get decay.’”

3. Mints freshen your breath

Depends. Most mints contain sugar which leads to tooth decay; not the best for fresh breath. If you like minty sweets or gum, make sure they’re sugar free!

4. Exposure to acidic foods like lemons causes tooth decay

True. Acidic foods such as lemons, citrus juices, or soft drinks don’t directly cause cavities, but they can cause erosion of the tooth-protecting enamel, weakening the tooth. If you lose the enamel’s protection and expose the underlying dentin, your tooth is now more prone to decay.

5. Aspirin placed next to a tooth will help a toothache

False. Swallowing aspirin is what helps reduce toothache pain. Since aspirin is acidic, placing it beside the tooth can actually burn your gum tissue, causing an ulcer. Always swallow the aspirin.

6. All fillings eventually need replacing

False. An amalgam, composite or porcelain filling needs to be replaced if it breaks down, a cavity forms around it, or if the tooth fractures. If none of those problems occur, there is no reason why you can’t keep the same filling for life.

Fillings do have an average life expectancy, but it depends on things like tooth wear and oral hygiene habits. If you brush your teeth twice daily with a fluoridated toothpaste, and floss or use an interdental cleaner once a day, you’ll have less tooth decay and your fillings should last longer

7. If you have a cavity, you’ll feel it

False. This is a very common myth; patients can sometimes be surprised to hear that they have decay in their teeth. Many people think that if it doesn’t hurt, then there’s nothing wrong. Unfortunately mild tooth decay typically doesn’t cause symptoms. The pain we associate with cavities comes when tooth decay is more advanced and causes damage to the nerve.

Also, once a cavity starts, it doesn’t repair itself. A cavity will always grow once you get to a point where you can’t clean it out any longer. Once decay gets into the dentin of the tooth — below the enamel — it just continues to grow.

Allowing tooth decay to advance can lead to much more extensive procedures, like root canals and crowns. That’s why regular dental checkups are so important.

8. Sensitivity in teeth means you have decay

False. Tooth sensitivity could just mean you have hypersensitive teeth, or gum recession has exposed some root surface. There are many things, including decay, which can lead to sensitive teeth.

9. Once a tooth is treated, the decaying stops

True. You can get decay later on in other areas of the tooth, but the particular decay that was taken out is gone.

Once you get a cavity filled, and if you maintain good brushing and flossing techniques, you typically won’t get decay in that spot again.

Sometimes a filling gets old and the margins where it meets the tooth begin to break down or pull away; because you can’t reach it to clean it out, bacteria can get in there and decay can begin again.

10. Cavities are more likely between teeth

True. Anywhere bacteria can hide and you can’t easily clean is a likely place for decay. Your toothbrush will not effectively clean between the teeth, and people who do not floss daily are much more likely to get decay between the teeth. Additionally the deep grooves on the biting surface of your back teeth are a common place for tooth decay.

11. Gaps in teeth encourage cavities

True. If you have small gaps between your teeth that are not easily cleaned, or if you have areas that food tends to get caught in, these are at a much greater risk of decay.

12. Chips and cracks in teeth lead to decay

True. If cracks and chips create a hiding place for bacteria, a spot where your toothbrush can’t reach, those areas are more prone to tooth decay.

At Portobello Dental Clinic, we’re seeing more and more cracks in teeth due to night-time grinding. Worries about the economy can make some people grind their teeth more; so stress can play an important role in dental health.

13. Clenching and grinding isn’t that big a deal

False. Clenching and grinding is one of the most destructive things you can do to your teeth. With normal chewing, teeth touch for mere milliseconds, suffering very little stress. But clenching and grinding, typically done during sleep, puts tremendous pressure on your teeth for extended periods.

14. You don’t need to worry about cavities in baby teeth

False. If cavities are left untreated in baby teeth, they can develop into serious pain and abscesses. The baby teeth also help to guide the adult teeth into their correct position, so if they are lost early, this can lead to crooked or poorly positioned permanent teeth.

14.  Poor oral health only affects the mouth


  • People with gum disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease than people without gum disease.
  • Pregnant women who have gum disease may be over three times more likely to have a baby that is premature.
  • Several studies have correlated the connection between mouth infections and strokes.
  • People who lose their back teeth and cannot chew their food properly are at higher risk of digestive problems, & poorer nutrition.
  • Loss of back teeth is also associated with high blood pressure.

The current advice is that adult toothpastes should be used for children over 2 years of age, and NO toothpaste before then. This is down to the fluoride content in the toothpastes-proprietary childrens toothpastes do not contain high enough levels of  Fluoride. From a taste perspective, this presents a challenge as most children complain of a burning sensation from the general adult toothpastes (the mint and eucalyptus flavours tend to burn their sensitive and tender gums and mucosa).

But before you panic–Tesco ( and I do not hold shares in this company unfortunately!) Strawberry Ice Cream Flavour toothpaste ticks the boxes for suitable flavour for children and recommended fluoride levels. We recommend that you brush your child’s teeth twice daily, and let them spit out the residue, but try not to let them rinse-thus leaving more fluoride for further topical effect.

Finally, ensure that while you allow your child to brush their teeth themelves, that you, as the parent/carer also brush them—to be sure , to be sure…!

Try to allow enough time to make it an interactive and fun start and end to the day–this can be tricky as all parents know—the morning rush and of course the evening tiredness (of both the parents and children), but remember the benefit of little/no dental treatment is a wonderful gift to give to your child.

This information will help you and your family have healthy teeth and gums that will last a lifetime. As a parent, you can work with your children to help them understand why good oral healthcare is important — and show them how to do it right!

Four Steps to a Healthy Smile:

1. Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste

How fluoride works-
Every day, the enamel on teeth is attacked by acids produced in dental plaque. These acids can erode through the enamel and result in decay. That’s where fluoride comes in. As it reaches your teeth, fluoride is absorbed into the enamel. It helps to repair the enamel and prevent tooth decay. It can even help stop the decay process. You can get the benefits of fluoride from a variety of sources. It works on the outside of your teeth. At home, you and your family should brush with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day. Fluoride rinses can also provide additional protection. Your dentist can also apply fluoride to your teeth in the surgery.

2. Floss every day.

3. Limit the number of times you eat snacks each day.

Snacking and tooth decay:While fluoride is our greatest protection against tooth decay, frequent snacking can be our teeth’s biggest enemy. Every day, you and your family face snacking challenges. Here’s what you need to know:
It’s how often you snack that matters– The truth is that what your family eats isn’t as important as when and how often they snack! It all has to do with the “plaque acid attack,” Everyone has plaque bacteria in their mouths. But when these plaque bacteria meet up with the sugars and starches that are found in snacks such as sweets, biscuits, soft drinks, or crisps, the plaque reacts to create acid, and a “plaque acid attack” occurs. The fact is most snacks that you eat contain either sugars or starches that give plaque this opportunity to make acid. And each “attack” can last for up to 20 minutes after you have finished your snack. During this period, the plaque acid is attacking tooth enamel, making it weak. That’s when cavities can start!

4. Visit your dentist regularly and follow his/her advice.

The dentist is your family’s partner in keeping your Smiles Healthy. Be sure to schedule regular dental appointments for the whole family. A child’s first visit should take place before his or her third birthday.
Dental check-ups early in a child’s life allow children to have a positive dental health experience.
TIP: Take your young toddler with you to your own appointment first. That way, the dental surgery becomes a familiar place.

Your dentist may recommend:
1-Fluoride treatments:
Your dentist may treat your child’s teeth with extra fluoride in the form of a gel or varnish to make teeth stronger.
2-Dental sealants:
These are thin, protective plastic coatings applied by the dentist to the permanent back teeth (molars). They fill in the grooves on the chewing surfaces of the teeth where foods and bacteria can get stuck and cause cavities. Once applied, sealants can last for several years.

3-X-rays: Sometimes these are taken at this visit–these “pictures” are radiographs that show the dentist what’s going on inside the teeth and under the gum.

What’s The Best Way to Care for My Baby’s Teeth?

Good oral care starts from the very beginning, even before his or her first teeth emerge. Numerous factors can affect their future appearance and health. For instance, tetracycline, a common antibiotic, can cause tooth discoloration. For this reason, they should not be used by nursing mothers or by expectant mothers in the last half of pregnancy.

Since baby teeth usually emerge around six months of age, standard oral health procedures like brushing and flossing aren’t required for infants. However, infants have special oral health needs that every new parent should know about. These include guarding against baby bottle decay.

How Can I Prevent Baby Tooth Decay?

Baby Tooth decay is caused by exposure, over long periods of time, to liquids containing sugars. These include milk, formula, and fruit juices. The sugary liquids pool around the teeth for long periods of time as your baby sleeps, leading to cavities that first develop in the upper and lower front teeth. For this reason, you should always make sure your baby doesn’t have a bottle in his / her mouth when falling asleep. Instead, at bedtime, give your child a bottle filled with water or a pacifier recommended by your dentist. If you breast-feed, avoid letting the baby nurse continuously. And after each feeding, wipe your baby’s teeth and gums with a clean, damp cloth or a gauze pad.

How Do I Help My Children Care for Their Teeth and Prevent Cavities?

Teaching your child, good oral care at a young age is an investment in their health that will stay with them for life. You can start by setting an example, taking good care of your own teeth sends a message that oral health is very important and anything that makes taking care of teeth fun, like brushing along with your child or letting them choose their own toothbrush, encourages good oral care.

To help your children protect their teeth and gums and greatly reduce their risk of getting cavities, teach them to follow these simple steps:

  1. Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to remove plaque-the sticky film on teeth that’s the main cause of tooth decay.
  2. Floss daily to remove plaque from between your teeth and under the gum line, before it can harden into tartar. Once tartar has formed, it can only be removed by a professional cleaning.
  3. Eat a well-balanced diet that limits starchy or sugary foods, which produce plaque acids that cause tooth decay. When you do eat these foods, try to eat them with your meal instead of as a snack-the extra saliva produced during a meal helps rinse food from the mouth.
  4. Use dental products that contain fluoride, including toothpaste.
  5. Take your child to the dentist for regular check-ups.

What Brushing Techniques Can I Show My Child?

You may want to supervise your children until they get the hang of these simple steps:

  1. Use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Take care that your child does not swallow the toothpaste(this is difficult with very young children—so we recommend using a children’s toothpaste which contains lower levels of fluoride).
  2. Using a soft-bristled toothbrush, brush the inside surface of each tooth first, where plaque may accumulate most. Brush gently back and forth.
  3. Clean the outer surfaces of each tooth. Angle the brush along the outer gum line. Gently brush back and forth.
  4. Brush the chewing surface of each tooth. Gently brush back and forth.
  5. Use the tip of the brush to clean behind each front tooth, both top and bottom.
  6. It’s always fun to brush the tongue!

What Is Fluoride and How Do I Know if My Child Is Getting the Right Amount?

Fluoride is one of the best ways to help prevent against tooth decay. A naturally occurring mineral, fluoride combines with the tooth’s enamel to strengthen it. For most children the proper use of fluoride toothpaste will be sufficient to help prevent decay. For children at high risk of dental decay and without access to fluoridated water, milk, or salt, your child’s dentist may suggest using fluoride drops or mouthrinse in addition to a fluoride toothpaste.

How Important Is Diet to My Child’s Oral Health?

A balanced diet is necessary for your child to develop strong, decay-resistant teeth. In addition to a full range of vitamins and minerals, a child’s diet should include plenty of calcium, phosphorous and proper levels of fluoride. If fluoride is your child’s greatest protection against tooth decay, then frequent snacking may be the biggest enemy. The sugars and starches found in many foods like biscuits, sweets, soft drinks and even some savoury snacks are food for bacteria in dental plaque and are converted to acids. These acids attack the tooth enamel and can lead to cavities.

Each “plaque attack” can last up to 20 minutes after a meal or snack has been finished. Even a little nibble can create plaque acids. So it’s best to limit snacking between meals.

What Should I Do if My Child Chips, Breaks or Knocks Out a Tooth?

With any injury to your child’s mouth, you should contact your dentist immediately. The dentist will want to examine the affected area and determine appropriate treatment.

If your child is in pain from a broken, cracked or chipped tooth, you should visit the dentist immediately. You may want to give an over-the-counter pain reliever to your child until his/her appointment. If possible, keep any part of the tooth that has broken off and take this with you to the dentist.

If a tooth is completely knocked out of the mouth by an injury, take the tooth to your dentist as soon as possible. Handle the tooth as little as possible-do not wipe or otherwise clean the tooth. Store the tooth in a cup of fresh milk until you get to a dentist. It may be possible for the tooth to be placed back into your child’s mouth, a procedure called re-implantation.

What Are Dental Sealants and How Do I Know if My Child Needs Them?

A dental sealant creates a highly effective barrier against decay. Sealants are thin plastic coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of a child’s permanent back teeth, where most cavities form. Applying a sealant is not painful and can be performed in one dental visit. Your dentist can tell you whether your child might benefit from a dental sealant.