What Causes Children’s Dental Plaque and How to Prevent It?
Chances are you’re familiar with the term “plaque” by now. Perhaps a dental hygienist mentioned it during your child’s last dental checkup, or it was that time you spoke with your best friend about their child and the advice they got from their pediatric dentist on brushing? Be that as it may, you probably don’t know everything there is about the term, including all the possible ways it can impact your child’s dental health. But you should, because untreated plaque is cause for concern and can create problems for both you and your child.
That’s why we’ve decided to provide you with a guide on children’s dental plaque below, followed by a few actionable tips on how you can help to prevent it.
What Causes Children’s Dental Plaque?
If you want to ensure your child avoids developing excessive plaque, it’s essential to understand what causes it in the first place, so let’s cover that first.
As you probably know, our mouth is naturally colonized by various bacteria. When these bacteria get in touch with foods, especially carbohydrates and more specifically, sugars (which are an all-time kids’ favorite), they create a sticky film on both children’s teeth and along the gum line. The metabolic product of this bacteria/sugar food chain is an acid, which can repeatedly attack your child’s enamel. This means that if plaque isn’t removed, it will continue to build up and cause tartar, cavities, periodontal disease, and gingivitis, just to mention a few.
How to Detect Plaque?
Unfortunately, plaque is often colorless or can be pale yellow, making it hard for you and I to detect easily. However, some symptoms can indicate that your child has plaque buildup, and these include bad breath, irritated or swollen gums, and ultimately this building can lead to tooth decay. Make sure you watch out for those clues and schedule an appointment with your pediatric dentist or family dentist accordingly.
What’s the Difference Between Plaque and Tartar?
In time, plaque that hasn’t been removed hardens into calculus or tartar. This calcified plaque can cause discoloration and staining of teeth. Also, if tartar forms along the gum line, it can irritate gums and even cause some more serious dental problems, such as gingivitis and gum disease. Keep in mind that tartar can only be removed by a dental professional with professional dental tools during a dentist appointment. If left untreated, tartar can adversely affect your child’s brushing and flossing efforts as they won’t be able to do it properly.
How to Prevent Plaque Buildup?
Eventually, some amount of plaque is bound to form in everyone’s mouth, and small amounts are tolerable. After all, this is a continual process and we can’t completely stop it. Still, there are ways you can help your child reduce the development of plaque. Start by scheduling regular cleanings with your pediatric dentist. While practicing good and regular oral hygiene is a must, biannual visits to your child’s dentist will make sure that any early signs of tooth decay are detected immediately. Plus, dentists have special tools that allow them to access all those hard-to-brush surfaces on teeth and remove any excess plaque if necessary.
Teach Them to Floss and Floss Regularly
We can’t help but stress the importance of regular flossing. You can take an active part in it, by helping your child establish good habits and making sure they are flossing at least once a day. Some resistance is inevitable because it’s in children’s nature and obviously the process takes a little bit of time to accomplish, but you can always get creative and come up with interesting ways to make it more fun for them. For instance, you can floss together, sing a song while doing it (and don’t be afraid to make up your own)!
The point is to teach them to floss in between teeth and between the gum line because these are areas that toothbrushes can’t reach.
Track Their Water Intake and Make Sure They’re Brushing at Least Twice a Day
You should make sure your child’s daily water intake is adequate, not only due to obvious reasons such as staying hydrated but also because drinking water is crucial for their dental health. Water helps clean their mouth and it may provide them with the necessary fluoride that is essential for a healthy happy smile and complements regular flossing and brushing. So, track their water intake and make sure they’re brushing at least twice a day.
Speaking of the latter, they really should brush at least twice a day, and especially after consuming sugar-rich foods and beverages. Supervise their oral health routine periodically or whenever you get the chance and encourage them to brush for at least two minutes every time. We also recommend the use of soft-bristled toothbrushes and fluoride toothpaste for maximum benefits.
How much did you know about children’s plaque before reading this article? What’s your experience with plaque prevention so far? Do you schedule regular dental cleanings with your pediatric dentist? Share your experience in the comment section below!