My tots go to the dentist twice a year for checkups and cleanings just like they’re supposed to, and in spite of following all of the rules, they still somehow get cavities. They brush and use fluoride mouthwash regularly, but we don’t floss enough, so I’m making a more concerted effort than ever to get their teeth in tip-tip shape. First of all, it’s important to find a pediatric dentist that really caters to kids. If they’re afraid of going, they won’t enjoy being there and they won’t take anything away from it. My tots see Dr. Janelle Holden in Manhattan Beach, and since her office is decorated like a safari adventure, the girls can’t wait to go to their appointments. That and she’s an incredible dentist, which, less surprisingly, makes a huge difference. They leave with goodie bags, so really a tooth cleaning with her is a lot like a party for tots. Kids don’t have very big attention spans, so all of her hygienists and technicians work at lightening speed, as does Dr. Holden herself. You have to see it to believe it! Watching her do a filling is like seeing a perfectly choreographed ballet. Everything is so well orchestrated that she and her two techs can fill a cavity in eight minutes flat.
Even on regular visits, she lectures about gummy vitamins and apple juice (absolute NO-NOs), telling us that anything gummy gets stuck between teeth and that the sugar in apple juice dissolves tooth enamel. Dr. Holden also reminds us about proper flossing, which may sound pointless, but you might be surprised to learn that you’re doing it wrong. If you floss your tots’ teeth for them, wrap the string around your middle fingers (I’ve always wrapped it around the index, but check out the correct form above) and use your index finger and thumb to push the floss through. This helps keep your digits out of the way, so that you can better control the string. I usually have to lay them down to get the right angle and leverage (can’t forget those back molars!), but this method allows me to do it quickly right after they brush. One last tip – if you use a fluoride gel, put that on first, and then use the floss to push it between the cracks. This will make flossing easier and more enjoyable, so that you’re motivated to get it done each night without a single cry or complaint!