Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease impacting children today, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By age 8, over half of children have had a cavity in their primary teeth. And yet, cavities are preventable!
Parents can help children establish habits that will lead to a lifetime of good oral health. Essential oral health care practices start during infancy. Don’t wait until teeth start coming in to begin practicing oral hygiene.
Dr. Duffy’s P-E-A-R-L-S of Wisdom
Protect tiny teeth by caring for your own health when you’re pregnant. Untreated gum disease can harm your systemic health and may contribute to low birth weight. Mothers can even pass cavity-causing bacteria to newborns, and children are three times more likely to have tooth decay if Mom has untreated cavities.
Ensure that you wipe baby’s gums after each meal. Take a clean, damp washcloth and gently run your index finger over your baby’s gums. Since newborns eat several times a day, aim to do this at least twice daily — just as they would if they were brushing.
Avoid putting babies to bed with a bottle. Early childhood caries are usually caused when infants or young children are put to bed with a bottle of breast milk, formula, or juice. When these are given at bedtime, the sugars within stay on their teeth and gums. Bacteria in the mouth will turn those sugars into acid that will decay the protective enamel on their little teeth. Sugar on teeth + time = tooth decay.
Remember to brush your child’s teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste. Once your child’s first tooth erupts, it is time to begin brushing. We recommend selecting a soft-bristled toothbrush made for infants. The amount of toothpaste used should be significantly less than what you might put on your own toothbrush — around the size of a grain of rice. Continue to gently clean their gums.
Limit drinks and food with added sugar. Your child’s diet is very important to the development of healthy teeth — and their overall health and well-being as well. Instilling healthy eating habits is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children.
Schedule your baby’s first dental appointment by their first birthday, or when their first tooth appears — whichever comes first. We can provide guidance for parents and stay ahead of any problems. Children should receive at least two regular dental examinations each year, or more if they are at higher risk for oral health complications.
Keeping Flower Mound Families Healthy
Proper oral health practices are vital for infants and children. Your role as a parent is to shape your child’s habits to set them on a path for a healthy smile that will last a lifetime. Don’t wait for your child’s first tooth to erupt before considering their oral health.
Helping Kids Love Dentistry!