Did you know that tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children? In the United States alone, tooth decay affects 25 percent of children ages six to 11 years old. You are one of the biggest factors in your child’s oral health, and it is imperative that children of all ages receive oral health care.
What is Tooth Decay?
First, lets answer the question ‘what exactly is tooth decay?’. Tooth decay is the destruction of the hard, outer layer of your teeth, called enamel. Children, and even infants, can be affected by varying levels of tooth decay. It is important to be aware of and help prevent childhood tooth decay. The care of teeth at a young age can set the stage for oral health for the rest of a child’s life. Tooth decay is an easily preventable problem, and it can negatively affect your child’s overall health, self-esteem, social development, and quality of life.
What Causes Tooth Decay?
The main cause of tooth decay is excessive consumption of sugary drinks and snacks. It is important you as a parent limit your child’s sugar intake in order to help prevent prolonged exposure to of sugary liquids to the teeth. If your child drinks for a sippy cup for long periods of time, fill the cup with only water. Soft drinks and sugary fruit juices can do more harm than good. It is also important to disallow a child from taking their sippy cup or bottle to bed. Be very aware of foods that will stick between a child’s teeth, and keep your children from consuming large amounts. It’s no secret that children and adults alike love sweets, but limiting their intake will prevent future tooth problems.
When Should My Child See the Dentist?
The ideal time for a first visit to the dentist, is six months after your child’s first tooth erupts or by their first birthday. Early visits will not only be an advantage to your child’s oral health, but will also familiarize them with the dental office and reduce anxiety and stress for future visits.
How Can I Protect My Child’s Oral Health?
As a parent, you are responsible for maintaining you child’s oral hygiene until they are old enough to take responsibility for themselves. Below are some of the ways you can ensure your child’s teeth and gums stay in tip top shape.
- Clean your infant’s gums with a clean damp cloth after feedings
- Bes sure to monitor the excessive sucking of pacifiers, fingers and thumbs to avoid teeth misalignment
- If you buy bottled water, make sure it is fluoridated to help aid in making your child’s tooth structure more resistant to decay. Tap and fountain water both have fluoride present in them so encouraging your child to drink these is a better option than bottled water.
- Once your children’s teeth start to come in, brush them with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and water. Toothpaste is not typically used until after a child’s second birthday, but you can talk to dentist if you wish to begin using toothpaste sooner.
- Once your child is old enough to brush their teeth on their own, encourage them to do so.
- Lead by example to show your child the proper ways to brush and care for their teeth.
If you have any questions or want more information about caring for your child’s teeth, please feel free to ask anyone in our office.