Protect your smile from periodontal disease

Dr. Gary R. DiStefano, DDS &
Schaefer Dental Group


HOWELL, MI 48843
OFFICE (517) 546-8983
FAX (517) 546-1422

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Children and Teens Oral Health

It's Back to School Time!  We Have Some Great Information Below to Improve Your Family's Health. Now You Can Greet Those Early School Mornings With a Big Healthy Smile!

Are you a busy mom? Do you want to make sure your children and teens are healthy from head to toe? Do you want to be sure you’re doing the best you can for your family’s health?

You try to give them proper nutrition and vitamins to promote strong bones and teeth. But let’s face it, because you’re busy, grabbing take out food sometimes seems like the only option.  Plus, you can’t always be over your child’s shoulder making sure they brush and floss after every meal.  You also know they’re tempted by less healthy choices at school, in vending machines and when visiting friends. 

You probably know that visiting the dentist twice a year is important, but – beyond that – everyday oral care and nutrition will really improve your family’s health! Combining great dental care and advice with year-round attention to dental health will turn your struggle into success! 

Wouldn’t it be a relief for your family to get great dental report cards! Wouldn’t you love the feeling of knowing that you’re taking the best care of your family’s health possible? Isn’t the dream to know that the health of your kids is top-notch, even if they sometimes “cheat” a little on diet and brushing?

Dr. DiStefano and his staff are available to provide you with helpful information and guidance on the best ways to keep your family healthy and smiling bright! We focus on education and prevention.  Our practice provides the kind of “dental health care” you’re looking for, not just reactive “disease control.”  Our staff regularly attends lectures, meetings and conferences to stay current with trends in dental equipment, techniques and products. 

Below are a few important topics we want to highlight.  A few may surprise you! 

Baby Teeth Are Important

There are many people who do not put an importance on good oral care when a child has their baby teeth.  However, it’s recommended to start teaching children about proper dental care and nutrition as soon as their teeth start coming in.  Baby teeth are important because they hold the place for where the permanent teeth are to grow.  If they lose a baby tooth too early it can affect the development of the permanent tooth, their bit and the speech.  

Formula, breast milk, and juices all contain sugar and lead to tooth decay which can result in pain, infection and tooth loss.  Clean your infant’s gums twice a day with a wet washcloth.  This will get them comfortable with the act of cleaning their mouth and make transition to a brush easier. 

Cavity Prevention in Toddlers

Try to avoid giving toddlers extra sugary or starchy snacks such as crackers.  How can you tell if it is too starchy?  If the food is still visible in their teeth after twenty minutes it would be wise to eliminate.  Also avoid giving them chewable vitamins that list sugar as their first ingredient.  If your child takes a bottle to bed it should only be filled with water.  Try to wean them from using a pacifier by the age of 1.  At the age of 2 you can begin using a small pea-sized amount of toothpaste on the bristles of a toddler brush.  Concentrate on the back molars that are more prone to decay.  By the age of 5 your child should be able to brush on their own.

Tweens and Teens Want That Mega-Watt Smile

Teens can be very style and appearance conscious.  When they are shopping at the mall they may be tempted to try a non-professional teeth whitening system.  Teens and adults should really visit their dentist to ensure that the bleaching trays are fitted properly and to prevent damage to existing dental work.  It’s not recommended for anyone under the age of 14 because the tooth’s pulp is not yet fully formed and the whitening procedure can be painful. 

Drinking Soda, Sports and Energy Drinks:  Fast Paced Now, Health Problems Later

It’s well known that the excessive consumption of energy drinks and soda can cause obesity.  The drinks also contain high levels of acid that causes severe tooth enamel damage and interferes with calcium absorption.  This mal-absorption compromises bone density leading to bone fractures, especially in teenage girls.  The loss in bone mass will also lead to osteoporosis later in life.

Educate your teen on a healthier choices such as water, milk, vegetables, fruits and nuts.  If they consume an energy drink, sports drink or soda remind them to rinse with water or to chew sugar free gum which will increase saliva flow and cut down the acid in their mouth.   

Put Your Foot Down Regarding Tongue Piercing

Your teen wants a pierced tongue?  Not only does it put them at risk for chipped teeth and nerve damage but it can be fatal.  A bacterial infection called Ludwig’s angina, can occurs from a tooth infection, mouth injury, oral surgery or oral piercing.  The piercing causes an open wound that allows the bacteria to travel through their bloodstream.  The bacteria can also cause their mouth to swell which can block their airway. 

The Best Way to Get Your Kids to Brush

Is to model the behavior yourself!  Demonstrate proper oral care, including flossing, dental visits and nutrition to show your kids that they are important.  If they witness you practicing what you preach they are more apt to do the same. 


We hope you have learned a few new things to educate your children and teens on. 

Call us to schedule an appointment for you and your family.  We will answer your questions and discuss your concerns and together develop an individualized plan for optimal dental health. 

You can also download our guide “Helpful Tips for Your Child’s First Visit to the Dentist.”

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