Oral Health

Tooth Tutor Program    

“Put the sparkle back in your child’s smile!”

FREE home visits to help parents improve their children’s oral health.   View brochure:   for English click here, for Spanish click here.

Why do we need the Tooth Tutor?

The Tooth Tutor helps parents learn what they need to know and do to put the sparkle back in their child’s smile!

As a parent, you are the greatest influence on your children’s oral health habits.  Good oral health is just as important as a healthy heart, lungs or bones. By caring for your child’s mouth, gums and teeth you can help your child have a beautiful smile and avoid many serious problems like pain, infection and speaking difficulties, not to mention expensive dental visits.

The Tutor visits families to help them learn how to keep their child’s teeth healthy, and prevent more dental caries from occurring.  Services are provided in the comfort of your home, away from the dental office, at a time that is convenient for you and your family.  The Tutor will make approximately three visits and is available by phone for questions and support.

The purpose of the Tooth Tutor program is to reduce the number of new and recurring dental caries (tooth decay) in children who have already experienced a high number of caries.

Enrollment

It’s easy!  Simply call our office (760-924-7626) and tell us you’d like a visit from the Tooth Tutor.  The Tooth Tutor will call you at home to arrange for your first visit. The Tooth Tutor is bilingual (English and Spanish).

Common Questions about the Tooth Tutor Program

What is the cost?  There is no charge for the program.  It is free.

What services does the Tutor provide?  The specific services your family receives will be based on the needs of your child.  A specially trained oral health promoter, called a Tooth Tutor, will explain all procedures, their purpose and their benefit. As an enrolled family you can expect instruction on:

  • oral hygiene (toothbrushing without tantrums)
  • diet to prevent decay (eating practices that promote good oral health)
  • topical fluoride varnish application (to strengthen teeth; this is safe even for babies, and works differently than supplements or fluoridated water).

Enrolled families receive toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss for everyone in the family!

How is the Tutor different from the dentist?  The program offers services that compliment, not replace, dental treatment that you receive at your dentist’s office.

Will the program do fillings or other treatment?  No. The program provides personalized instruction and supplies to keep your child’s teeth healthy.

Healthy Teeth for Healthy Kids – Tips for Parents & Caregivers

Boy burshing

Why are baby teeth so important?

Many parents wonder why it is necessary to care for the “baby teeth” when “these are going to fall out anyway.” Baby teeth are important because they hold the space for permanent teeth. If the baby teeth come into an unhealthy mouth, they will become unhealthy too. Healthy teeth are also important for speech development and nutrition.

The first thing you can do to protect your child’s teeth is to set a good example. Everyone knows that children love to imitate grownups and even the littlest ones will want to brush and floss if they see you do it. Secondly, learn what you need to know and do to keep their smiles sparkling. Here are a few helpful tips:

From birth to 1 year old:

  • Breastfeed your baby.
  • Prevent painful baby bottle tooth decay by not letting your baby fall
    asleep with a bottle in his or her mouth.
  • Wipe or brush your baby’s teeth daily, especially after eating, with
    a clean washcloth or a moist, soft child’s toothbrush, without toothpaste.
  • Introduce a cup around 6 months of age.
  • To avoid spreading the germs that can cause cavities, don’t put anything
    in a child’s mouth if it has been in your mouth. This includes spoons, cups
    and toothbrushes. The bacteria in your mouth can cause tooth decay in your
    child.

From 1 to 2 years old:

  • Stop bottle-feeding at 12 months of age.
  • Schedule a visit to the dentist by your child’s first birthday. You want
    to find a “dental home” for your child and build a relationship with a dentist
    you trust. Ask friends or your pediatrician to give you the names of dentists
    who work well with children.
  • Once your baby is eating solid foods, limit the number of sweet and sticky
    foods that he or she eats. Instead, offer a variety of healthy foods from
    all of the food groups such as fruits, vegetables and cheeses.
  • Brush gums and teeth with a soft child’s toothbrush, using a small pea-sized
    dab of fluoride toothpaste twice a day, morning and bedtime. Wipe off excess
    toothpaste until the child can spit it out.
  • Check your baby’s teeth and gums for early tooth decay. Look for spots
    on the teeth, swelling, bleeding or pimples on the gums.

From 2 to 3 years old:

  • When your child is about 2 years old, brush their teeth with a pea size
    amount of fluoride toothpaste twice a day, especially before bedtime. Spit
    out excess.
  • Give your child water rather than juice when thirsty. After 6 months
    of age, one small serving of juice a day is sufficient. It is also recommended
    that you dilute juice by adding an equal amount of water.
  • Ask your dentist about fluoride supplements if you live in an area where
    fluoride is not in your drinking water. Fluoride helps make teeth strong
    and prevents tooth decay.
  • Ask your child’s doctor or dentist about putting fluoride varnish on
    your child’s teeth. This is another great way to protect your child’s teeth
    from cavities.

From 3 to 5 years old

  • Help your child brush at least twice a day. Your child will need your
    help until he or she is about 8 years old.
  • Take your child to the dentist at least once a year.
  • After your child eats sweets, chips, crackers or juice, you should brush
    their teeth or rinse their teeth with water.

Other Questions You Might Have

Prevention is the best way to protect your child’s teeth. A dentist is trained
to answer your questions and give you the tools you need to make sure your
child’s teeth will be healthy. That is why it is so important that you schedule
a visit to a dentist by the time your child is 1 year old.

The following are just some of the common questions that parents have about
their young children’s oral health.

Q: What causes cavities?

A: A number of bacteria normally live in the mouth. Some of these bacteria
are introduced when parents or caregivers share their food or utensils with
young children. These bacteria turn the sugars and carbohydrates that we eat
into acid. The bacteria and acid mix with food particles and our saliva to
form plaque. If plaque is not removed, it can erode the enamel on our teeth
and these erosions can get bigger over time. Eventually the acid in the plaque
can get to the pulp of the tooth where blood vessels and sensitive nerve fibers
are, causing painful infections.

Q: Are there foods that increase my child’s chances of getting cavities?

A: Soda, sweet drinks, candy and other sweets can cause cavities that hurt.
Foods that can stick to teeth like chips, crackers or cereals can also cause
cavities. Try to replace these snacks with healthier alternatives like cheese,
yogurt, fruit and vegetables.

Q: If my child has a toothache, does that mean she has a cavity?

A: A cavity is just one reason your child might have a toothache. Other reasons
include a crack or fracture in the tooth, an exposed root or an infection in
the gum. None of these should be treated at home. Visit your dentist or doctor
immediately to find out what is happening.

Q: If my child has a cavity, can he brush more and make it go away?

A: No, cavities don’t go away; they only get worse. They are very painful
and the infection can affect the gums and permanent teeth as well. If you think
that your child has a cavity, see a dentist immediately.

Q: Why not just have the dentist pull out a tooth with a cavity, especially
if it’s a baby tooth?

A: The empty space that is created when a tooth is removed not only affects
how your child looks and how he or she feels about how he or she looks, it
also affects his or her future dental health. The teeth around the space will
start to move and shift, causing problems later on, and possibly even preventing
the permanent tooth from coming in.

Q: Should I give my child fluoride?

A: Fluoride can be given via supplements, toothpaste and fortified drinking
water. Ask your doctor or dentist if your child is getting enough fluoride
or the best way to get more. For example, a dentist can do much more specific
and concentrated treatments like a fluoride varnish, which is painted right
on the teeth.

Q: Should babies and children use toothpaste?

A: Most dentists agree that using fluoride toothpaste before age 2 is a good
way to protect children’s teeth. Just be sure to wipe your child’s mouth after
brushing to remove any excess toothpaste.