Melissa Magstadt, South Dakota Secretary of Health

Prevention — the key to good oral health

Tooth decay is preventable

  • Brush after eating or at least twice a day – especially before bedtime.
  • Use only a pea-size dab of toothpaste.
  • Use toothpaste that contains fluoride.
  • Choose a toothpaste flavor that you or your child likes.
  • Use an egg timer to time the length of your brushing, 2-3 minutes, or if listening to music, brush till the end of a song.
  • Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles.
  • Rinse your toothbrush well after each use and allow it to air dry.
  • You can even brush or floss while in the tub or shower, while watching TV, or while reading.
  • Floss every day.
  • Flossing cleans the tooth surfaces that you can not reach with a toothbrush.
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months or sooner if you have been ill.
  • Do not share toothbrushes – each person in your family must have their own brush.

The first steps to ensuring your child's oral health is taking care of
your own oral health.

  • Start early. It is important to maintain good oral health before, during and after pregnancy. Research increasingly reports a possible connection between periodontal disease and pre-term low birth weight. Practice good oral health habits daily and visit your dentist regularly.
  • Keep your own mouth healthy. Cavity causing bacteria in saliva can be passed from parent or caregiver to a child.
  • Brush and floss daily. Brush 2 – 3 minutes
  • Use fluoride. Toothpastes, mouthwash and water should contain fluoride. Check labels
  • Choose healthy, nutritious food. Avoid sugary snacks beverages, and soda pop.
  • Visit your dentist regularly for a check-up and oral cancer exam. Regular dental care is particularly important for those with diabetes. (more about oral health and diabetes: Mayo Clinic | National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research). Diabetes can lead to an increased risk of oral health problems such as gum disease.
  • Use gum, mints, or oral health products containing xylitol. Xylitol helps prevent decay.
  • Avoid using tobacco products. Spit tobacco use is related to oral cancers, gum disease, and leukoplakia. Only one-half of individuals diagnosed with oral cancer are alive five years after diagnosis.
Share via: