4 Reasons You SHOULDN’T Give In to a Child Who Refuses to Brush their Teeth

It’s just another normal morning routine — getting the kids out of bed on time, making breakfast, getting everyone dressed, and – of course – the screaming, kicking, and crying that comes with brushing your kid’s teeth. You’re just not in the mood to pick that battle today and, really, what’s the harm?

Think again. Here are 4 reasons why you shouldn’t – and can’t afford to – give in to a child who refuses to brush their teeth.


1. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. 

Well, you can, but why leave it up to chance?  Maybe you’re hoping that once your kids get older, they’ll adopt good oral hygiene habits on their own. It’s better to start these habits when they’re young and they’re more apt to continue them for the rest of their lives.

2. Permanent teeth can be damaged by baby teeth. 

If the baby tooth is decaying into the roots beneath the gum, the new permanent tooth may be resting upon the decaying baby tooth and begin decaying itself.  If a baby tooth is lost to decay before a permanent tooth is ready to replace it, other baby teeth will fill the empty space and cause crowding when the permanent teeth eventually do come in.

3. Tooth decay affects a child’s education. 

60-90% of school-age children currently have cavities, and over 51 million school hours are missed each year because of this tooth decay.  Let’s break it down even further — in your child’s classroom of 25 kids, 15 of them have at least one cavity.  Furthermore, kids aren’t always able to express their pain and discomfort accurately to their parents, so many of these cavities go untreated.

4. Poor oral hygiene leads to a slew of long-term health consequences. 

The mouth is often referred to as the “window to your overall health.” So if your mouth is suffering, it’s likely that it doesn’t just stop there. Among the dangers of poor oral hygiene are an increased risk of heart attack, increased risk of stroke, increased risk of dementia, severe diabetes mellitus, pregnancy complications, and respiratory disease.

Don’t leave the choice up to them!  After all, what child enjoys having their teeth brushed?

The Tooth-y Two’s: How to Care for Your Toddler’s Teeth

Ahhh, the terrific two’s. (That is the saying, right?)

By now your child is sprouting some pearly whites, you’ve already been in to see the dentist a couple of times, and you’re engaged in the full-on battle of brushing each and every day. Keep it up, Mom & Dad!  Sometimes the tears can be a bit discouraging (theirs AND yours), but you’re doing the right thing.

Here are a few reminders for your child’s oral hygiene.

How should I brush my toddler’s teeth?

Just like you, a toddler should be brushing for 2 minutes twice a day.  More accurately, YOU should be brushing their teeth for 2 minutes twice a day.  Children don’t quite have the manual dexterity to brush their own teeth for a few years yet.

Using a smear of fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush, brush in small, circular movements until all traces of food are gone.  If you let your child brush their own teeth, make sure to finish up the job for them.

(And if they absolutely won’t let you do it without a huge battle, here are some tips for getting them to play along.)

Should my child be using fluoride?

Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens tooth enamel and makes teeth more resistant to acids and harmful bacteria. Adult toothpastes and most municipal water contain some amount of fluoride.

Call your local water authority or ask your dentist about fluoride in your water.  If you use well water, buy a test kit from a hardware store to determine the fluoride level in your water supply. If it’s anything less than .3 parts per million, ask your pediatrician about a supplement.

Although fluoride is good for your teeth, swallowing too much of it over time leads to a condition called fluorosis that causes white spots on adult teeth. Until your child can spit out the toothpaste after brushing, use toothpaste without fluoride.  When your child starts using toothpaste with fluoride, use only a pea-sized amount.

How can I keep my toddler’s teeth healthy?

Keeping your child’s teeth healthy depends as much on what you allow them to eat as how you brush them.  Sweets and sugary snacks alter the acidity of their mouth, which causes tooth decay and cavities.  These foods should be kept to an absolute minimum.

When your child is indulging in sweets, try to keep it to once a day. If sugary snacks are consumed regularly throughout the day, their mouth will be under attack from the acid for hours at a time.

The #1 Key to Your Child’s Oral Health

Children today have a much better shot at a lifetime of good oral health than their parents did simply because of the recent improvements in treatments, including fluoride and sealants.


Want your child to have a healthy grin? You can start working on that even before you they crack their first smile.  There’s been a lot of research lately that proves cavities are contagious, and the likely culprit for passing on the germs is the mom.  Parents can unknowingly pass on the primary bacteria (Streptococcus mutans) to their newborns via their own saliva.


So how can you help stop the spread of the cavity-causing bacteria? Here are 4 ways:


It’s easier to share a spoon at dinner – especially when it’s 99.9% likely to end up on the ground if you leave their own spoon lying on their high chair.  And when it does end up on the ground, it’s much easier to “rinse off” in your own mouth than to find a new spoon.  Be careful.  You’re passing on more than just a spoonful of applesauce in the next bite.  You’re also passing on the bacteria that could cause cavities in your little one’s mouth.



Who isn’t guilty of this?  Sometimes there’s not a sink around.  Sometimes you simply don’t feel like taking the extra ten steps to rinse off the binky (which is perfectly understandable, given that you run around chasing little ones all day).  Unfortunately, this is just one more thing you’ll have to add to your never ending things-to-do list.  Keep an extra clean one on hand or rinse it off under warm, soapy water before passing it back to your child.



Everyone in the family should have their very own toothbrush (this could even be a selling point to encourage your toddler to brush their teeth!), and they should be changed every 3-4 months, or sooner if you’re an extreme brusher and fray the bristles earlier.  Using someone else’s toothbrush completely negates all of the healthy benefits of brushing.

young beautiful mother and her little daughter brushing teeth and laughing


Take the time before your baby arrives to make sure your oral hygiene is in line.  After all, it’ll be significantly harder to make it to the dentist once your little one makes their debut.  Arguably the most important action you can take to make sure your child has good oral hygiene is to have good oral hygiene yourself.  Make sure to brush and floss regularly.  You’ll set a “contagious” good example, instead of spreading contagious bacteria.


Dental Care Before, During, and After Your Pregnancy

Congratulations on your pregnancy!  The next few months will be a whirlwind of activity – sharing the exciting news with your friends and family, picking out baby names, setting up the perfect nursery – and we’ve got one more task you should add to your to-do list. Get your teeth cleaned.


Before You Get Pregnant

Ideally, if you can, you should have your teeth professionally cleaned before you get pregnant.  That way, your dentist can check for any decay or oral health problems that can be treated in advance of your pregnancy.  Bacteria in your mouth can be directly transferred to your baby, so it’s important to have any issues taken care of before the baby begins growing.

During Your Pregnancy

For precautionary reasons, you should avoid any dental treatments during the first trimester and the second half of the third trimester if possible (barring an emergency).  These are the critical times in your baby’s growth and development.  However, you can receive dental treatment during the second trimester, although any elective dental pregnancies should be postponed until after your baby arrives.

Make sure to always tell your dentist (and any other doctors you visit!) that you’re pregnant, as well as inform them of any medication that you’re taking. They may alter your treatment plan accordingly.  They’ll most certainly avoid taking any dental x-rays (again, barring an emergency).

Even though you and your dentist should be extra careful during your pregnancy, don’t skip the dentist altogether.  Hormonal changes caused during pregnancy put you at risk for pregnancy gingivitis, tender gums that bleed easily.  If you feel tenderness, swelling, or excessive bleeding of the gums, schedule an appointment with your dentist immediately.

Bacteria from your mouth can be transferred to your baby, so you want to keep your own mouth as clean as possible!  Eat a healthy, balanced diet with as little sugar as possible to avoid tooth decay.

***If you suffer from morning sickness, the acid from being sick can be extra harmful to your teeth.  Make sure to rinse your mouth out with water or mouthwash after each time you get sick.  If brushing your teeth causes morning sickness, try switching to a bland-tasting toothpaste.

After Your Pregnancy

Continue with your regular dentist appointments and oral health routine.  A healthy mouth for mom means a healthy mouth for baby.  Research shows that cavities can be contagious, and the #1culprit for transferring bacteria to your baby’s mouth is the mother.

Pediatric Dentistry of Ft. Myers donates to Tropic Isles Elementary

FORT MYERS, Fla. (January 16, 2015) – Pediatric Dentistry of Ft. Myers, Dr. Tim Verwest, DMD donated 100 toothbrushes to Tropic Isles Elementary community problem solving team. Personal hygiene bags will be distributed to children in need.

“Our whole class got sick, so we decided to take things into our own hands,” said Amelia Mullee, a fifth grader at Tropic Isle Elementary. “I want to keep everyone healthy and germ free”. Pediatric Dentistry of Fort Myers regularly donates to improve community health and hygiene. In 2014 the office donated over 20,000 free toothbrushes to children in Lee, Collier, and Charlotte County.

Pediatric Dentistry of Ft Myers, Dr. Tim Verwest, DMD, continues to provide pediatric dental care to children for over 25 years. Areas of service include comprehensive dental exams, cleanings, composite fillings, dental hygiene education, extractions, fluoride treatments, sealants, sedation dentistry, space maintainers, x-rays and tooth nerve treatment. For more information, visit www.DrVerwest.com or (239) 482-2722.

Amelia Mullee, Tropic Isles Elem

Are Cavities Really Contagious?

Surprisingly, yes.  The #1 chronic childhood disease – dental caries – is actually an infectious disease. Moreover, since babies spend a whopping majority of their time with their mothers, it’s likely that they “catch” tooth decay from them.


In fact, a study conducted by the University of Queensland’s School of Dentistry in Australia found cavity-causing bacteria in 30% of 3-month old babies’ mouths and 80% of 24-month-old babies’ mouths.

Tooth decay is caused by cavity-causing bacteria and acid from the food we eat.  This same bacteria can easily find a new home in your baby’s mouth if the opportunity arises.  To keep your baby’s mouth clean, it’s vital to start with your own.  Make sure you regularly visit the dentist and schedule your bi-annual cleanings.

To further protect your baby from childhood dental caries, avoid these situations that allow bacteria to pass from mom to baby:

  • Testing out your baby’s food to make sure the temperature is right. While your intentions are good, and you might save your baby from burning their mouth, you’re passing on the bacteria from your own mouth to theirs.
  • Rinsing a dropped pacifier in your own mouth. Doesn’t it seem like the pacifier ends up everywhere but in your baby’s mouth? Sometimes, it’s not so easy to get to a sink to wash it off. But don’t go for the quick fix just yet. Rinsing it off in your own mouth might get rid of the dirt from the ground, but it’ll also pass along the bacteria from your mouth.
  • Sharing utensils.  When your baby is old enough to start chewing on solid foods, it’s easy to resort to the “one bite for me, one bite for you” method.  It seems like such a hassle to switch spoons every other bite (and the last thing you need as a busy mom is another hassle), but to save your baby’s teeth, it’s important to do so.
  • Sharing drinks. Children are constantly asking for whatever you have at that moment, and your water bottle is no exception. It’s easy to hand it over and let them take a swig, but they’ll likely also get a taste of the bacteria from your mouth.

Above all, keep your mouth as healthy as possible to reduce any risks.  Make oral health care a family affair to keep everyone healthy and happy.

The Psychological Consequences of Bad Teeth

It’s easy to see the physical benefits of good teeth – proper chewing (which allows for a good diet), sleeping well (without chronic pain from toothaches), and speaking properly (without any mouth deformities that cause speech impediments).


But have you ever thought about the social and psychological benefits?  If you have nice, straight teeth, probably not. But if you’re unhappy with your smile, it probably haunts you almost every day of your life.

Nearly 70% of survey respondents said their oral health affected their quality of life.  Those with bad teeth reported emotional anxiety, avoidance of close relationships, and fear of rejection.

In another study, 31.2% of children were ashamed to smile because of their teeth. For someone who, on average, should smile about 400 times a day, that’s a lot of missed grins. Ten percent of kids even said they stopped playing with other children because they were ashamed.

While we do our best to teach kids not to “judge a book by its cover,” research indicates that almost everyone does – kids and adults alike.  Bad teeth are associated with defects in character, intelligence, and morals. Because of these quick judgments, people with bad teeth are less likely to be successful in their careers and personal relationships.

Over the long term, smiling benefits your perception at work, social life, romantic status, and overall happiness. With that much at stake, it makes skipping a few nights of brushing seem like a much bigger deal.

The 5 Subconscious Habits You’re Doing that Damage Your Teeth

We all have times when we’re running on autopilot, and we’re pulled in a million different directions. At these times, you might not even realize the wear & tear you’re doing to your teeth. Beware of these 5 habits you probably do subconsciously that could wind you up at the dentist’s office.

1. Crunching on ice

This one is a tough habit to break because most people either never eat ice or eat ice all of the time. Your teeth are designed to crush THROUGH things, not AGAINST them, so the hardness of ice cubes can cause serious damage to your teeth. One dentist reminds use that even “your blender needs special blades to crush ice.”

2. Using your teeth as tools

We’ve all done it. Don’t see the tool you need laying close by hand? Plan B: Use your teeth – whether it’s breaking off a clothing tag, opening a bag of chips, or unscrewing that impossible soda top. But remember, your teeth are meant for 3 things: to chew food, to speak properly, and to look better when smiling. If you’re not using your teeth for any of those 3 things, don’t use them at all.

3. Absentmindedly chewing on whatever you have in your hand

You might not even realize how often you do this. (You might not even realize you’re doing it right now!) Some people have a habit of holding whatever object they have in their hand – pens, pencils, eyeglasses, etc. – between their teeth when they’re concentrating. Again, your teeth are designed to crush through things, so even though it might not seem like a big deal, you’re most likely putting more pressure on your teeth than you even realize.

4. Sipping on soda

We all know soda is bad for us — too much sugar, too many calories, leads to serious health conditions (really, is there anything good about soda?) — but sipping on soda over a long period of time can be detrimental to your teeth.  By casually drinking a soda at your desk, you’re literally washing your teeth in acid for an hour.  In the long term, this leads to decay and loss of enamel.

5. Excessive snacking

It’s true that snacking throughout the day kickstarts your metabolism, but it also raises the acidity level in your mouth for a prolonged period of time. When you snack, it takes your saliva about an hour to return the acidity level in your mouth back to normal, but if you’re snacking every hour or every two hours, the acidity level will be high many times throughout the day, which causes decay and enamel erosion.

Did You Know: Toothbrush Trivia

The toothbrush you recognize today was not invented until 1938. Before then, people would chew on the end of a twig to splay it and then use it to scrub their teeth.  These chew sticks were very effective.  In fact, many people today still use this method today, and prefer to use the medicinal miswak stick.