Start with Prevention
Most parents know the basic training: brush two times a day, floss, and take the kids to the dentist every six months.
But what you might not know is that children should see a dentist beginning at age 1, recommends the American Dental Association. If you wait until they’re 2 or 3, many children already have tooth decay and cavities, says David Cook of Smiles@France in Edina.
To make brushing fun for a toddler, try a funky, brightly colored toothbrush or an electric brush with a timer. The time can teach kids to brush for the recommended two minutes, says Melissa Zettler of Cherrywood Dental Care in Savage.
Another great tip: Have a flossing party. Floss your teeth while the kids do theirs. You’ll model good behavior and do your own mouth a favor, too.
You’ll build onto dentists’ twice-annual fluoride treatments when your children do nightly fluoride rinses to strengthen their teeth. Zettler recommends a before-bed swish to keep fluoride soaking on the pearly whites all night long.
The biggest challenge for our American diets is to limit kids’ sugar intake. Whether it’s apple juice—which Cook says is worse than eating a candy bar—pop, sports drinks, or sweets on your teeth, sugar makes teeth more susceptible to tooth decay and cavities.
Ready to work some straighter teeth? There are now more options than ever.
1 Traditional braces. They no longer mean “metal mouth.” Though metal braces still effectively move teeth, brackets are much smaller and sleeker than they used to be. “Clear ceramic braces are even less visible,” says Carol Austin of Cross DentalCare in Minnetonka. But for very crooked teeth and crowding problems, traditional braces still work best. $4,500–$6,000, one to two years of treatment.
2 Invisalign. A series of customized trays, Invisalign gradually moves teeth according to a plan created by your dentist or orthodontist. The clear plastic aligners—which resemble trays used for teeth whitening—can be removed for two to four hours a day for eating and brushing. That benefit can be a downside for people who forget their Invisalign, like those in the throes of mind-bending puberty—making the treatment far less efficient and effective. $4,500–$8000, up to 18 months of treatment.
3 Six Month Smiles. An orthodontist who wanted to find a quick fix for less extensive problems developed these braces. Keith Johnson of Stone and Johnson Dental Group in Edina is a fan of Six Month Smiles when a patient doesn’t need extensive corrections. Its transparent brackets and transparent rubber bands are an inconspicuous way to straighten teeth. $3,900, about six months of treatment.
Traditional braces no longer mean metal mouth. “clear ceramic braces are ... less visible.”
Carol Austin, Cross Dentalcare