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6 dental facts you may want to consider

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By Linda Valderrama

Tooth decay can be present as early as the teeth start to erupt (6-8 mo) and is actually considered an infectious communicable disease. Tooth decay  can progress rapidly and  become worse causing pain and discomfort .Tooth decay is still the most prevalent chronic childhood disease, yet it is for the most part preventable. It is five times more common than asthma, four times more common than early childhood obesity, and 20 times more common than diabetes. Untreated, decay leads to pain and early tooth loss. Rampant decay present in baby teeth goes beyond pain and infection affecting sleep, learning, playing, speech, nutrition, eating, ability to chew, and quality of life even into adulthood. Decay can progress rapidly to destroy teeth. It can have an impact on overall health.

There are several important facts to understand:


  1. According to a survey by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists, many parents and caregivers are unaware that common practices such as providing the wrong snacks and sharing utensils can increase the risk of a child developing cavities. Did you know that the starch in a cracker can be more destructive than a piece of caramel? Starchy carbohydrates can lead to decay just like sugar. In fact caramels can dissolve more quickly than crackers and the longer a child’s teeth are exposed to food, the more damage occurs. The best rule is to get your child in the habit of brushing teeth when possible after eating. It is never too soon to start practicing this healthy habit.
  2. Cavities can spread in a similar way to a cold or the flu. There are over 350 species of bacteria that reside in the mouth. Cavity causing bacteria can dissolve the enamel layer of a tooth. Saliva transfers to the child by shared pacifiers, utensils, by a child putting their fingers in your mouth, or by parent or caregiver blowing on their food.
  3. In between meals it is always better to avoid constant exposure to sticky foods, sodas or juices. Healthier choices would include cheese, yogurt, or fruit. A child will have fun helping to prepare healthful snacks to eat. From a young age, encourage your child to drink water rather than sweet drinks when thirsty.
  4. Avoid having your child drink from a sippy cup filled with milk or juice in between meals. These cups are only meant to act as a transitional tool to help transition from bottle to cup. They create a situation where the liquid in the cup can coat the insides of the teeth and prolonged exposure to anything but water can cause problems.
  5. As soon as teeth start erupting a dental checkup should be scheduled. It is important to preserve the baby teeth. They hold the place for permanent teeth until they are ready to erupt.
  6. About 90% of all foods contain sugars or starches that enable gooey masses of bacteria (plaque) to attach to your teeth. This plaque produces acids. This attack by bacterial plaque lasts about 20 minutes and occurs within 3 minutes after eating. This acid is what leads to loss of tooth mineral and cavities. You can imagine what happens if your child is snacking all day without brushing!

See if your child responds better to pictures, verbal instructions, or songs. Some children need to have things written down in chart form, coloring pages, or games and rewards. You know your child and can determine what works best for them.  Just make it a happy and fun routine for them. Help your child to develop healthy habits early. Prevention is the best strategy. Brushing after eating whenever possible is one important part of a preventative strategy that will help to ensure a healthy smile.


Linda Valderrama


Linda Valderrama has over 25 years experience as a dental hygienist in family practice. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University and has practiced in Cleveland Ohio, Geneva Switzerland, and San Diego, California.  She  has worked on patients from ages two to one hundred years old and has successfully developed preventative oral hygiene programs tailored to individual needs.

Being a strong believer that good oral hygiene leads to good overall health and well-being, and that good daily habits must be acquired early in life, Linda has written a book that will help parents  to work  with their young children to achieve this  goal . Brush Barry Brush is a  unique children’s book that helps instill in young children the simple  but very important notion that every time they eat, they should also brush their teeth.

 She is also working to develop  programs for  school , assisted living facilities, and healthcare institutions to develop effective oral hygiene programs.

Linda is a member of the American Dental Hygienists Association, the California Dental Hygienists Association, and the San Diego Dental Hygienists Society.

She has two grown children and enjoys working out at the gym, hiking, and cycling. 

Linda has written the book, Brush BarryBrush which has been selected as a featured book in June issue of "Children's Bookwatch" online book review magazine. The review has been provided to the Helen C White Library's "Cooperative Children's Book Center"(University of Wisconsin, Madison)where it will be made available to school and community librarians throughout Wisconsin's public school systems and community libraries. This review has also been provided to  the Cengage Learning, Gale interactiveCD-Rom series"Book Review Index" that  is published four times yearly for academic,corporate and public library systems. Additionally the review will be archived on  Midwest Book review website for the next five years. 

Also, Brush Barry Brush story is  now also available as a recordable eBook :
This makes a great , fun supplement to the hard copy of the book !
Brush Barry Brush is always available as interactive book with chart and stickers  at website,,  FIreside Book Shop, Chagrin Falls,Ohio,(440)247-4050 
Posies and Ponies,La Jolla,(858-551-0434) and  now also availble at The Yellow Book Road Book Store (619-463-4900) located HIstoric Decatur Rd.,San Diego,
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