The American Dental Association (ADA) has designated February as Children’s Dental Health Month. This is an effort to bring attention to the many health concerns surrounding pediatric dental care.
At Red Star Dental we would like to focus on educating parents on what they need to look out for when it comes to children’s dental care, to ensure great dental health within the community.
In our first post, we would like to address the common misconception about infants and toddler’s teeth being less important than adult teeth given that they aren’t permanent. This, unfortunately, can lead to poor hygiene and poor preventative care amongst the children population. More specifically there are studies showing an increase of “Early Childhood Caries (cavities)” as a result of this misconception.
Early Childhood Caries is defined as tooth decay of one or more baby teeth in infants and children up to the age of 6. The tooth decay is a result of bacteria living in the mouth. The main source of food bacteria is sugar.
As we know children love sugar! As humans when bacteria in our mouths consume sugar that we’ve eaten, they produce an acid that can deteriorate and break down the surface of the teeth. Over time this can become a serious problem that is often inconvenient and costly for parents to address.
Here are some tips to help prevent Early Childhood Caries (cavities) in your child, with hopes of giving them a head start in early oral hygiene:
1. Schedule early and regular dental exams for your child. Infants first dental appointment should be scheduled within six months of their first tooth, but no later than their first birthday
2. Avoid putting juice, soda, or other sweetened drinks in a baby bottle. Limit liquid consumption through bottle to only breast milk, formula, or water
3. Wait until 12 months to give juice and then limit consumption to meal and snack times
4. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry encourages parents to have children drink from a cup by their first birthday
5. If a child uses a pacifier, do not dip it in anything sweet like sugar or honey. If it falls on the ground, do not “clean” it in your own moth as this can transmit cavity-causing germs to your child. Clean with hot water, soap and rinse thoroughly before returning to the baby’s mouth
6. Before baby teeth appear gently wipe gums and inside of mouth every day. Especially after feedings and before bed with a clean, warm cloth
7. When the baby’s first tooth appears to brush the baby tooth twice a day with a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush and “smear” of fluoridated toothpaste. For 2 to 5-year-olds, use a “pea size” amount of toothpaste and perform or assist your child’s tooth brushing.
Taking care of children’s teeth is a critical part of the future health of your children. With these tips, parents are given the opportunity to get a head start on promoting strong dental hygiene practice for their children.
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