When it comes to your child’s teeth, it’s never too early to start preventing tooth decay. First and foremost it’s important to lead by example. Taking care of your own oral and dental health promotes healthy and positive habits that your children will mirror. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 19% of kids between the ages of 2 and 19 have untreated cavities. We’d like to share some tips to help prevent cavities in children before they have the chance to get started.
Even before your children get teeth you should begin good oral health habits. From the ages of birth to twelve months, begin by wiping your child’s gums with a clean wash cloth. As soon as a tooth pops through your babies gum, it’s important to pay attention. When that first tooth erupts you can use a soft baby toothbrush and water to start cleaning the teeth and surrounding gum.
From the age of 12 months up to 24 months you should brush your child’s teeth at least twice a day with a very small amount of fluoride toothpaste. It is important to develop these good brushing habits at a young age. Bottles and sippy cups should only be used during meal times. It is never a good idea to put your child to bed with a bottle or sippy cup and do not use a bottle or sippy cup as a pacifier throughout the day. Try teaching your children to drink from a regular cup between the ages of 12 and 15 months to keep liquids from accumulating around the teeth, and to prevent bad drinking habits from forming.
It’s important to know if the water your child is drinking is fluorinated. If your water does not have enough fluoride, check with your dental professional about receiving a fluoride supplement, especially if your water comes from a well. Encourage your children to drink primarily water and limit juice to about 4 to 6 oz. a day at meal times only. Watching what your children snack on is important for their teeth. Foods that are sweet or sticky should be limited and eaten only at meal times. Children can learn to clean their teeth with their tongue after they eat if a toothbrush isn’t handy throughout the day, especially after snacking.
Go ahead and schedule a children’s dental appointment soon after your child turns one, even sooner if you have worries, questions or concerns about their teeth.