, Salem, MA


February 4, 2014

Column: Smiling through Children’s Dental Health Month


In addition to brushing children’s teeth twice a day (or nagging them to do it), dentists say that kids should be helped or instructed to floss daily. Plastic flossers are easier to use than regular floss. Flossing cleans out the teeth and brushing brushes it away.

Another issue I want to call to parents’ attention is a condition called fluorosis that’s been on the rise in recent years. Fluorosis is a mottling of tooth enamel. It appears as white spots, white streaks, or in extreme cases, as brown markings on a person’s teeth. The condition is caused by kids ingesting too much fluoride while their teeth are forming and not yet erupted, perhaps by swallowing too much fluoride toothpaste.

Because many of our water supplies in the U.S. are fluoridated and we also use fluoride toothpaste, mouth rinses and other products, fluorosis may be a sign that “too much of a good thing isn’t good.” Parents might want to consult their child’s dentist or pediatrician about what is the right amount of fluoride for their child’s age, weight and risk of tooth decay.

Happy Children’s Dental Health Month! I hope it brings you plenty to smile about and that your February will be free of cavities, crowns, tooth extractions and root canals (unless, of course, you’re a dentist)!

Mary Alice Cookson is a parenting magazine editor and columnist. She welcomes comments at

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