This Quarter’s Theme: Babies and a Dental Home

Tooth Talk Reveals the Shocking Truth Behind Tooth Health Myths

According to a May 2014 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, nearly half of Americans believe in a medical conspiracy theory, from blaming vaccinations for causing autism to thinking that pharmaceutical companies are blocking FDA release of a cure for cancer. Both are false. However, the research finds that these beliefs can often lead to poor health practices, ultimately affecting overall well-being. Following are some of the top tooth health myths and good answers you can give to parents when they have questions.

MYTH: Fluoride in the public water is a government plot to dispose of industrial waste.

TRUTH: Fluoride is a natural mineral that comes from the element fluorine and is found everywhere on planet Earth. Proven to fight tooth decay, it’s found in soil, water, minerals and foods including seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, milk, tea and gelatin. Research shows that the controlled addition of fluoride to the water supply reduces tooth decay and is fully endorsed by the medical, dental and public health worlds.

MYTH: Pregnancy weakens teeth by taking calcium from them.

TRUTH: According to the HRSA Consensus Report on Oral Health Care for Pregnant Women,   it’s actually the stomach acid from morning sickness that affects teeth, softening tooth enamel. Advise moms not to brush right after vomiting; instead, rinse the mouth with either plain water or water with a teaspoon of baking soda in it. Other changes to the mouth during pregnancy may include puffiness, swelling or possible bleeding of the gums. But, these are also signs of gingivitis. Remind pregnant moms that brushing and flossing as well as regular dental appointments are good not only for their health but also for the baby’s health too.

MYTH: Everyone hates going to the dentist.

TRUTH: Actually, the #1 fear is public speaking (followed by dying!). While most people get nervous about going to the dentist, and as many as 20% won’t go due to that anxiety, very few actually experience true dental phobia. Remind parents that the benefits far outweigh the fear. Good dental health is good for a healthy, confident smile; helps in chewing and speaking properly; and contributes to better overall cardiovascular health, including heart health and possible stroke prevention. Plus, children with healthy teeth do better in school, are free from pain, and eat and sleep better.

Want to learn more about that first dental visit for baby and why it’s so important? Click on the link to the video Why Babies Need a Dental Home.



This Quarter’s Theme: Babies and a Dental Home

Tooth Talk Celebrates National Brush Day with Good Tips About Brushing Kids’ Teeth To Share With Parents

What’s scarier than ghosts and goblins on Halloween? Tooth decay in small children! National Brush Day is November 1. It’s the day after the ultimate candy-consumption holiday for a good reason: to remind families of the importance of children’s dental health and to promote good brushing habits.

Started in 2013 as part of the Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives campaign, National Brush Day has a simple message: brush kids’ teeth for two minutes, two times a day.

Remind parents of these tips. They’re so easy to follow, it’s downright scary!

tiny smear of toothpaste

Tiny smear of toothpaste. Altarum Institute © 2007,

  • Start brushing baby’s teeth twice a day at the appearance of the first tooth (usually between 6 and 10 months).
  • Use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste on a soft bristle child’s toothbrush. Increase to a pea-size drop at age 3.
  • Brush outside, inside, around and on top of each tooth, brushing gently back and forth.
  • Kids want to brush their teeth themselves. That’s OK, just so parents take a turn too.
  • Continue to brush children’s teeth daily until they can tie their shoes.

For more tips and how-tos for brushing a young child’s teeth from Tooth Talk, the website about improving children’s dental health for early childhood educators and childcare providers, check out the Videos and Ask the Expert tabs.


This Quarter’s Theme: Babies and a Dental Home

Improving Communications with Parents Improves Children’s Teeth Health: Motivational Interviewing Works!

You’re making a difference! A 2012-13 Oral Health Status report of kindergartners in 72 of NC’s 100 counties found that 64% had no obvious signs of tooth decay; only 13% had untreated tooth decay. This report by the Oral Health Section of the NC Department of Health and Human Services shows that North Carolina is still a leader in the effort to safeguard children’s overall health through good dental practices.

So, how can you improve those numbers and connect with parents about the importance of dental visits? Here are some great ways to start the conversation with the parents in your program.

  • Ask open-ended questions:                                                                                                         “What’s your concern about going to the dentist?”
  • Follow up on the reflections by asking permission to share some tips for fitting in the dentist visit.
    “May I share a few ideas that may make it easier for you?”
  • Reflect back to the parent what you’re hearing in a way that inspires behavior change:
    “I see. Getting Michael to the dentist means you have to fit it in to your already busy schedule.”
  • Last, summarize what you and the parent have agreed to do:                                                     “Great! You’ll schedule it on your next day off.”

To learn more about how you can help your program’s parents improve their children’s dental health, see the video Tooth Talk Moments below. For other helpful videos about motivational interviewing, click here or go to the Videos tab at the top of the page.

This Quarter’s Theme: Babies and a Dental Home

Tooth Talk Expert Helps You Answer Parents’ Questions About Babies & Dentists

Question: Why do babies need a dentist? Most of our parents think, “They’re only baby teeth and will just fall out anyway.” What can I tell them?

According to Dr. Frank Courts, DDS, PhD, a pediatric dentist in private practice in Rocky Mount, NC, a dental visit by age 1 is vital not only for a child’s healthy smile but also for hitting important developmental and growth milestones.

“Healthy baby teeth are the first and most important step to a healthy adult mouth! Dental cavities that start before age 2 have the potential to cause:

  1. Acute pain,
  2. Chronic discomfort,
  3. Poor nutrition
  4. Reduced learning and school performance, and
  5. Life-threatening infections.

“Early access to oral health care has been shown to dramatically increase oral health in 4- to 5-year-olds as well as reduce the need for extractions and fillings. Finding oral health services for your child by age 1 will go a long way toward having a healthy and happy child with a beautiful smile!”

For a helpful fact sheet to share with parents about dental visits for babies, click here.

To see a helpful video about “Why Babies Need a Dental Home”, visit the Video tab at the top of the page or click on the image below.