Oral Health

Tooth Tutor Oral Health Education Program

Why participate?

The Tooth Tutor Oral Health Education program helps children, parents, and childcare providers learn how to keep teeth healthy. We teach the importance of keeping teeth clean by brushing and flossing daily, and what foods contribute to healthy teeth.

Twice a year, the program schedules hour-long visits county-wide at childcare and preschool sites. With a parent’s permission, our Tooth Tutor will administer a topical fluoride varnish treatment. Topical fluoride varnish is a safe easy way to prevent cavities and help strengthen the teeth.  A thin layer of varnish is painted on the surface of the teeth using a small brush. The varnish is absorbed directly into the tooth and works best if administered 2-4 times a year. Our fluoride varnish services are intended to complement, not replace, dental treatment that your child receives at a dentist’s office.

Each child will receive a bag with information on dental health, a book to take home to read, and a new toothbrush, floss, and toothpaste. We hope this will give an opportunity for parents and childcare providers to talk with their children about the Tooth Tutor visit, oral health, and nutrition.

If you would like to schedule a Tooth Tutor Oral Health Education visit for your Childcare Center, please contact First 5 Mono at 760-924-7626.

Here are a few helpful tips to keep your child’s smile sparkling:

  • Breastfeed your baby.
  • Prevent painful baby bottle tooth decay by not letting your baby fall asleep with a bottle in his or her mouth.
  • Wipe or brush your baby’s teeth daily, especially after eating, with a clean washcloth or a moist, soft child’s toothbrush, without toothpaste.
  • Introduce a cup around 6 months of age.
  • To avoid spreading the germs that can cause cavities, don’t put anything in a child’s mouth if it has been in your mouth. This includes spoons, cups, and toothbrushes. The bacteria in your mouth can cause tooth decay in your child.
  • Stop bottle-feeding at 12 months of age.
  • Schedule a visit to the dentist by your child’s first birthday. You want to find a “dental home” for your child and build a relationship with a dentist you trust. Ask friends or your pediatrician to give you the names of dentists who work well with children.
  • Once your baby is eating solid foods, limit the number of sweet and sticky foods that he or she eats. Instead, offer a variety of healthy foods from all of the food groups such as fruits, vegetables, and cheeses.
  • Brush gums and teeth with a soft child’s toothbrush, using a small pea-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste twice a day, morning and bedtime. Wipe off excess toothpaste until the child can spit it out.
  • Check your baby’s teeth and gums for early tooth decay. Look for spots on the teeth, swelling, bleeding, or pimples on the gums.
  • When your child is about 2 years old, brush their teeth with a pea size amount of fluoride toothpaste twice a day, especially before bedtime. Spit out excess.
  • Give your child water rather than juice when thirsty. After 6 months of age, one small serving of juice a day is sufficient. It is also recommended that you dilute juice by adding an equal amount of water.
  • Ask your dentist about fluoride supplements if you live in an area where fluoride is not in your drinking water. Fluoride helps make teeth strong and prevents tooth decay.
  • Ask your child’s doctor or dentist about putting fluoride varnish on your child’s teeth. This is another great way to protect your child’s teeth from cavities.
  • Help your child brush at least twice a day. Your child may need your help until he or she is about 8 years old.
  • Take your child to the dentist at least once a year.
  • After your child eats sweets, chips, crackers or juice, brush their teeth or rinse their teeth with water.

Other Questions about Oral Health

As a parent, you can serve as a role model by taking care of your own teeth. Good oral health is just as important as a healthy heart, lungs, or bones. By caring for your child’s mouth, gums, and teeth, you can help your child have a beautiful smile and avoid many serious problems like pain, infection, and speaking difficulties. Establishing a good oral health routine at an early age will help prevent decay and possible tooth loss in the future. Help your child keep a healthy smile for a lifetime!

Prevention is the best way to protect your child’s teeth. A dentist is trained to answer your questions and give you the tools you need to make sure your child’s teeth will be healthy. That is why it is so important that you schedule a visit to a dentist by the time your child is 1 year old.

Many parents wonder why it is necessary to care for the “baby teeth” when “these are going to fall out anyway.” Baby teeth are important because they hold the space for permanent teeth. If the baby teeth come into an unhealthy mouth, they will become unhealthy too. Healthy teeth are also important for speech development and nutrition.

A number of bacteria normally live in the mouth. Some of these bacteria are introduced when parents or caregivers share their food or utensils with young children. These bacteria turn the sugars and carbohydrates that we eat into acid. The bacteria and acid mix with food particles and our saliva to form plaque. If plaque is not removed, it can erode the enamel on our teeth and the erosion can get bigger over time. Eventually the acid in the plaque can get to the pulp of the tooth where blood vessels and sensitive nerve fibers are, causing painful infections.

Soda, sweet drinks, candy, and other sweets can cause cavities. Foods that can stick to teeth like chips, crackers or cereals can also cause cavities. Try to replace these snacks with healthier alternatives like cheese, yogurt, fruits, and vegetables.

A cavity is just one reason your child might have a toothache. Other reasons include a crack or fracture in the tooth, an exposed root or an infection in the gum. None of these should be treated at home. Visit your dentist or doctor immediately to find out what is happening.

No, cavities don’t go away; they only get worse. They are very painful and the infection can affect the gums and permanent teeth as well. If you think that your child has a cavity, see a dentist immediately.

The empty space that is created when a tooth is removed not only affects how your child looks and how he or she feels about how he or she looks; it also affects future dental health. The teeth around the space will start to move and shift, causing problems later on, and possibly even prevent the permanent tooth from coming in.

Fluoride can be given via supplements, toothpaste, and fortified drinking water. Ask your doctor or dentist if your child is getting enough fluoride or the best way to get more. For example, a dentist can do much more specific and concentrated treatments like a fluoride varnish, which is painted right on the teeth.

Most dentists agree that using fluoride toothpaste before age 2 is a good way to protect children’s teeth. Just be sure to wipe your child’s mouth after brushing to remove any excess toothpaste.