I’ll be the first to admit. I.hate.flossing. Absolutely hate it with a passion. First of all, my mouth is too small to reach my molars in the back. Having short fingers doesn’t help with flossing either. I could never get the floss around my fingers tightly while at the same time trying to wrap it around my tooth. Also, Achondroplastic dwarfs are prone to orthodontic issues. With the small mouth and normal sized teeth, it gets crowded and teeth are forced up against each other, which leads to tight spaces between the teeth to floss. All of these factors make it very discouraging to floss well and often.
Our son didn’t have any teeth until after age 1, probably due to having Failure To Thrive. In any case, his geneticist told us from the beginning to keep on top of his overall health. The Early Intervention program helped by offering health clinics free of charge like vision and dental screening. He saw a dental hygenist at one of these clinics when he was only 2 years of age. That’s where we learned dental hygiene techniques for young children, whether or not they had a disability. We use these techniques even today with the kids being ages 7 and 3. His first visit to the dentist was at 2 1/2 years old. At that age, he had 17 out of 22 teeth. His follow-up was 6 months later to check on the flossing. Our son hated brushing his teeth, but singing a song helped ease the chore. He tolerated flossing only the front teeth. Over the years, he got better at tolerating the brushing and the polishing at the dental office.
The Collis Curve Toothbrush is a very cool starter toothbrush. This toothbrush has four rows of bristles with the outer two curved, facing the two inner rows of bristles. The curved bristle is more effective in massaging gums and removing plaque than conventional straight bristle tooth brushes. Early Intervention gave us this toothbrush to use with our son while we started out with an infant gel for the first year while the teeth started coming in. Another tip they taught us was to “paint” fluoride rinse onto the teeth with a toothbrush. Obviously, a 1 year old is not able to understand to rinse without drinking the fluoride and spit especially if they cannot sit up independently. Even today, I’d much rather paint the fluoride on than to risk them swallowing it.
We used the infant gel at first, but learned that’s only for babies and once they have most of their teeth in to graduate to kids toothpaste like Oral B Stages. Have no fear about the amount of fluoride they may be ingesting. It has a fractional amount of fluoride and will help prevent cavities. Our son and daughter hated brushing their teeth at first. So, I started with a song that would help pass the time while brushing:
This is the way we brush our teeth, brush our teeth, brush our teeth.
This is the way we brush our teeth so early in the morning.
Then I sang the alphabet to them, which was just enough time to brush the teeth properly and letting the toothpaste really get in there longer than 10 seconds. Our dentist who has patients with sensory issues encourages two things to help with a good dental check up. First, adults should brush the kids teeth laying them down. It’s the only way to get all the surfaces correctly brushed, especially the back ones. And if you have a squirrely kid, you know what I’m talking about. I start with having them close their mouth to brush the outside and then have them open their mouth to brush the inside. This helps with less swallowing of the toothpaste. He also encourages them to have a Kid’s Electric Toothbrush to eliminate the overstimulation of getting their teeth cleaned at the dentist. So, we get a the cheap battery powered toothbrush and let them brush independently in the morning. Mom and dad get to do the detail brushing with a traditional toothbrush at night when there’s tons of food particles left over from the day. Mmm. Yucky!
Flossing is a pain in the butt. When you have short, chunky fingers, it’s even less fun. I could never get flossing the traditional way (using your fingers between the floss) down to a science. But, I found different flossers to help with it. A floss holder is a plastic gadget where you wrap your floss (about 8″) around the spool and between these holders. It helps with getting to the back teeth and no adjusting your fingers to get around to each tooth. The disposable single-use flossers are great too, but they have a smaller handle for the adult versions. Kids disposable single-use flossers have a bigger handle and come in fun colors. I lay the kids down to floss at night too. And for the LP adults, I’d have to say I love my Waterpik Water Flosser. This is the only thing that really encourages me to floss. I use it before I begin brushing to power wash my teeth. You won’t believe how well it cleans! My dental appointments improved greatly after I started using the Waterpik.
Orthodontics are a whole other animal when it comes to dental care. Early intervention with an orthodontist is greatly encouraged among geneticists with extensive experience with dwarfism. They prefer working with orthodontists specializing in cranio-facial deformaties because some LPs will need palate expanders or spacers and good timing to prevent repeated work. They will know the right time to do extractions and braces, unless you’re one of those lucky LPs who don’t need any orthodontic work. These type of orthodontists work with a cranio-facial team at your local Children’s Hospital. Just ask your geneticist who they suggest.