While it’s still Children’s Dental Health Month, let’s take a few minutes to learn about and review some dental health tips for children. Almost half of all children have cavities by the time they are in kindergarten… that’s not a happy statistic! And although tooth decay is more common than just about anything but the common cold, it’s one health problem that is easily preventable. Here are some tips on how to help your kids stay clear of cavities:
- Get your child brushing and flossing early! The earlier they pick up the good habit, the less likely they will pick up bad ones. Start cleaning their teeth for them twice a day while infants, starting as soon as the first teeth come in, using an infant toothbrush or a clean soft cloth. Introduce toothpaste around age 2 or 3, whenever they are able to spit it out (that’s very important), using only a pea-sized amount, and help them brush through age 7 or 8.
- Floss your child’s teeth as soon as two of them touch, usually around age 2 1/2. Around age 4, many children are okay to do some flossing on their own and like using the brightly colored flossers.
- Visit the dentist by age 1, or within about 6 months of the first tooth eruption. Most baby teeth are comply in by age 2 1/2 and a small percentage of babies are even born with teeth already in their little mouths!
- Limit exposure to sugary foods and drinks. It’s best to limit them to meal times, and the worst is to let them drink sugary juice or soda or snack on candy and carbs frequently throughout the day. The sugar feeds bacteria which produce acids that cause tooth decay. Keeping teeth clean and free of the fuel for those bacteria’s enamel-eroding acid most of the day is best. Make sure your child goes to bed with no beverage other than water by the bedside.
- Ideally, children over 2 years of age should not use pacifiers. Pacifier use in children much older than that can result in dental problems such as overbite and contribute to related problems like poor nutrition and even language development delays.
- Keep the good habits going! Children begin to lose baby teeth around age 6 and most usually have all their permanent teeth by age 13. Consistency throughout childhood has the best chance of succeeding in forming lifelong habits that support optimum dental health.
- Always set a good example! Children learn well by observation, so take great care of your own teeth too.
While we’re at it, check out these previous posts on Children’s Oral Health here on the Mall of Georgia Dentistry blog. Happy brushing and flossing… cheers to great teeth and oral health at all ages!