This Quarter’s Theme: Babies and A Dental Home

Tooth Talk’s 7 Tips to Help You Improve Communication with Parents

A recent UNC-Chapel Hill study suggests that EHS staff advice and support can improve the chances of getting a child to that early dentist visit, but not necessarily improve home dental care. How do you optimize your effectiveness when communicating with the parents in your program?

Motivational Interviewing can help. It’s a different way to communicate with parents that is more collaborative and supportive. Best of all, it works. Want to improve interactions with parents? These 7 Tooth Talk Tips can help:

1. Have a short agenda when talking with parents.
2. Never ask more than 3 open-ended questions.
3. Always focus on the good.
4. Be ready with an affirmation/reflection for each question the parent answers.
5. Ask permission to share resources and tips.
6. Then, share only 2 – 3 brief points.
7. If you don’t know something, say so and promise to find out. Follow through on your promise.

To learn more about motivational interviewing and how to help parents improve their children’s dental health, see the video:


This Quarter’s Theme: Babies and A Dental Home

Tooth Talk Expert Helps You Answer Parents’ Questions About Fluoride Varnish

Question: Parents in my program are asking if fluoride varnish is safe for their babies. What can I say?

According to Gary Rozier, DDS, Professor of Health Policy and Management, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, fluoride varnish on babies’ teeth is not only safe but protective.

“The fluoride that dentists put on teeth during regular visits has been a mainstay for the prevention of tooth decay for many years. It provides important extra protection above that provided by the daily use of fluoridated toothpaste at home and fluoride in drinking water. Gels and solutions that were used for many years have been replaced by fluoride varnish, a sticky liquid that is easily painted on the teeth in only a couple of minutes. This way of providing fluoride is more effective than older methods that dentists have used before.

“It is so easy and effective that doctors and nurses have started applying fluoride varnish to the teeth of babies during well-child visits–more than a million in North Carolina. Studies done at UNC-Chapel Hill show a very high level of parent satisfaction with this procedure.

“Many scientific studies have shown fluoride varnish is effective in helping prevent cavities and even reversing early stages of tooth decay, often eliminating the need for fillings. For the most benefit, it’s recommended two to three times a year starting with the appearance of the first tooth.

“Not only is the fluoride varnish process painless, quick and effective, it’s also safe. Children who swallow too much fluoride over long periods of time can develop white spots on the teeth. Fluoride varnish cannot cause these white spots. Because it’s applied only every three to six months, a very small amount is used and some of it is incorporated into the teeth to make them stronger, very little fluoride is swallowed. Less is swallowed with the varnish process that with other types of fluoride treatments used for many years.

“Fluoride varnish application is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dental Association for use during well-child visits at dental and medical offices.”

Best of all, it’s easy to accomplish: fluoride varnish can be applied in the doctor’s office. Suggest to the parents in your program to check with their child’s doctor to see if it can be a part of a well-baby visit. For a helpful fact sheet about fluoride varnish to share with parents, click here.

We want to know what’s on your mind. Ask the Expert at Tooth Talk, the website about improving children’s dental health for early childhood educators and care providers. Our panel of experts will choose a question each month and answer it on the site and in the weekly email. To ask your anonymous question, click here. See other Ask the Expert posts here.

This Quarter’s Theme: Babies and A Dental Home

What’s Your Opinion of Tooth Talk Videos?image for video survey

Are Tooth Talk’s short videos helpful?

Have you recommended them to parents?

Wonder how other programs use them?

Tooth Talk, the website about improving children’s dental health for early childhood educators and childcare providers, invites you to share Your Opinion about our videos on kids’ healthy teeth.

Designed to take just a few seconds, Your Opinion is a way for you to connect with what’s going on with your peers and share best practices. The goal? Improve the dental health of the kids in our care! To answer a couple of short questions, click here.

To see more Tooth Talk videos, click the Videos tab at the top of this page.


This Quarter’s Theme: Babies and A Dental Home

New Tooth Talk Video Helps You Explain Importance of Baby’s First Visit to the Dentist

Did you know…

According to a 2014 scientific paper, a preventive visit to the dentist before age 3 was found to be beneficial for high-risk kids and may be associated with reduced treatment and expense in the future? That’s a message that really speaks to parents!

The first dental visit is mostly educational for parents. The dentist will counsel the parents about nutrition, weaning from the bottle to a sippy cup, the proper technique of tooth-brushing, the importance of fluoride, the problems tooth pain can cause to a baby’s growth and development and other topics that foster a child’s healthy smile.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, American Dental Association and American Academy of Pediatrics all recommend a dental home for babies at age 1. Encourage your parents to include this “well baby check-up” for their child’s beautiful, healthy teeth.

For more information about the importance of that first visit to the dentist, click on the short video “Why Babies Need a Dental Home.”

To see other Tooth Talk videos, click on the Videos tab in the menu at the top of the page.