Calling all kids: The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has launched the Monster-Free Mouths Movement as a fun, good-guys-versus-bad-guys game. The AAPD seeks to highlight the importance of early oral care in an engaging way for youngsters and an informative method for parents.
To illustrate the dangers of an unhealthy mouth, the Mouth Monster Defense Kit found on the AAPD's website turns teeth and gums into a backdrop for bad guys. Join the fight to keep your child's mouth free of creatures like Tartar the Terrible, Ginger Bite-Us and Tooth D.K.
What can a dirty mouth do? It can leave you with bad breath, cavities and toothaches. It's time to equip parents with the right tools and information needed to combat these problems.
Recognizing plaque and tartar
First, there is a difference between plaque and tartar. Plaque is a yellow-brownish mix of bacteria, food and saliva that collects on teeth and along the gumline. Conversely, tartar is hardened plaque that can only be removed with the help of a dentist. Unlike plaque, tartar cannot be brushed off.
Plaque, the sticky substance that forms on teeth 4 to 12 hours after brushing, is relatively easy to get rid of. Think of the film on the walls of a fish tank: It gets gross quickly but can be easily wiped off with a wash cloth - the same goes for the enamel of your teeth.
"Keeping plaque off your teeth isn't complicated, but consistency is key," Richard Price, the spokesman for the American Dental Association, told WebMD. "Good habits make for healthy teeth - for most people, it's that simple."
Tartar - especially above the gum line - may prompt a bigger problem. Tartar has a rough surface, which allows for more plaque to build on the the tooth, meaning more harmful bacteria. It contributes to gingivitis, also known as gum disease. The AAPD recommends that babies' first dental visit occur by age 1, but it's never too late! Though parents are busy and it can be hard to make time, dental visits are key for your child's overall health and well-being, preventing against tooth decay and tartar build-up.
The best way to fight these mouth monsters is to brush your teeth every day using a fluoride toothpaste. Brushing doesn't reach the spaces between teeth, but flossing does. Don't forget to floss once a day, which keeps dental plaque away before it can turn into tartar. This will also cut down on bad breath.
For kids, stop the villains in their tracks and arm yourself with a toothbrush, a pack of floss and mouthwash.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please Note: The material on this site is provided for informational purposes only. Always consult your health care professional before beginning any new therapy.