Childhood tooth decay is the number one chronic illness of children in the United States. It should make parents think twice about neglecting regular visits to the dentist because it is highly preventable! If tooth decay is left untreated however, it can have a negative effect on the overall health and well-being of your child. Most adults enjoy fewer cavities, but children ages 2-8 are actually having an increase. It’s no surprise that the biggest contributor to the rise in tooth decay is all the added sugar in our children’s diets. Sugar is the culprit that builds up bacteria and leads to cavities that can be very painful. Sugar is added to snacks and drinks today at rates that make it very difficult for parents to control.
Baby Teeth Fall Out; Are Primary Teeth Important?
Many parents have the notion that baby teeth aren’t important because they will fall out eventually anyway. This is a big misconception. Cavities that form on baby teeth can spread to the permanent teeth waiting to replace them. If baby teeth aren’t taken care of it can lead to difficult, painful and costly problems in the future.
Establish & Maintain Good Oral Health Hygiene Habits
1. Sugary drinks should be had with meals and water to help reduce plaque formation.
2. As baby teeth start to emerge they should be brushed. Use a soft washcloth or baby toothbrush.
3. Look for brown or black marks on your child’s teeth as these are signs of cavities.
4. Children should have their first visit with a pediatric dentist by their first birthday.
Consider having two toothbrushes. Many young children will bite on the brush which will cause the bristles to splay and become ineffective. Allow you child to have a short turn brushing their teeth first and you can follow up with another. Parents can help their children develop good brushing habits until they are 6-8 years old because many children don’t have the manual dexterity to do a good job until they reach that age. Get your children to brush longer with distractions. Twice a day with a soft-bristled brush for two minutes. Set a timer or hum a song that’s two minutes long or use a reward chart with stickers each time they brush for the two minutes. Until your children learn to spit toothpaste out, they should use non-fluoridated toothpaste to minimize swallowing too much fluoride. Older children should use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and when teeth start touching each other is when you’ll need to introduce flossing. Many children get picky about the way toothpaste tastes so you might have to experiment a little and remember that using water is better than nothing. Limit the amount of juice and other sugary drinks and offer more water to help reduce the formation of plaque.
Tooth decay is almost 100% preventable! Teaching your children how to take care of their teeth at a young age is the first step to developing habits that will last a lifetime. Be an example to your children and make sure they see you taking care of your teeth. Good habits and early visits to a pediatric dentist are the surest way to prevent tooth decay. Contact Smile Reef today to make an appointment!