Yucky cavities. The most chronic childhood disease, according to the dentists at Sea of Smiles Pediatric Dentistry, located in Cincinnati. Five times more prevalent than asthma in children, cavities can cause major trouble for kids, including pain, tooth decay and dental abscesses.
That’s why it’s so important to follow guidelines for tooth care for children. Don’t ignore them: you are the catalyst that makes the difference in your child’s healthy teeth!
Don’t Be Blasé
Some parents make the mistake of playing down the importance of early tooth care for kids, but this is a mistake. Whether or not you schedule your baby for a first dental visit right on time or not, you are actually his first dentist. Gently cleaning your baby’s gums after drinking is important. When the first tooth erupts, brushing that tooth with a soft bristled brush on a regular basis matters. And when your child’s first birthday looms, ask around and then pick a “dental home” for your child.
The First Visit
The largest population in the U.S. with tooth decay is children ages 0 – 3, according to Sea of Smiles, so your child’s first visit is critical in assessing his future dental health.
Your dentist will gather information on family history, brushing habits, fluoride in your drinking water or not and other things like, is your child still nursing or does he get to toddle around with a sippy cup of juice from time to time?
Your dentist will assess the strength of your child’s teeth and whether factors like ongoing prescription medication may cause dry mouth that affects your child’s ability to prevent tooth decay.
Sea of Smiles says illness and high fevers can have an effect on your child’s dental health, so it’s important to share your child’s health history with your dentist, too.
Sea of Smiles says sweet drinks are the main culprits of cavities in little ones, along with typical snacks like dry cereal and fruit snacks. For older kids, sports drinks and soda are often the cause of cavities. But how do you get your kids to brush at least twice a day for two minutes at a time … and floss as well?
Where You Come In
Your child’s good teeth hygiene starts with you. Sea of Smiles says to assist your young children for as long as possible. Also, keep an eye on your kids ages 7 and older; big kids can skimp on good brushing habits. Build good habits early in your kids and you’ll have done your part to save them from years of dental visits!
- Always use soft-bristled brushes, whether electric or manual.
- Only put water in a sippy cup at bedtime.
- Let kids snack on cheese. Cheese stimulates saliva production that helps to clean the mouth.
- Let your toddler play with a toothbrush to make it fun from the start, and use games like pretending to brush the teeth of her stuffed animals, dolls or you!
- Model good tooth brushing habits — brush your teeth together so children can see you doing it, plus you’re there to watch and help them.
Source: American Academy of Dentistry.