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How to Avoid Tooth Decay in Children

Tooth Decay

As parents, nothing shakes us to our emotional core more than when our child is sick. One of the more frustrating things that your child can experience are the same oral health issues that we face as adults. In fact, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, “42 percent of children ages 2 to 11 develop a cavity in their primary teeth”.

Children as young as infants can experience tooth decay. Often overlooked, or misdiagnosed as typical teething-related pain, pediatric tooth decay can have a far reaching impact on the health of your child. This article is a quick guide for new parents, so you can treat your baby’s mouth with the same health-minded care that you use in your own daily regimen.

Firstly, it is important to recognize that you must lead by example. It is no secret that your child will learn to imitate everything that you do. So, if the parents make oral hygiene a priority for themselves, it is very likely that the child will also learn these habits and adopt them easily. However, “leading by example” actually begins before your child is even born.

Before the birth of your child, a member of your team of doctors should have explained the importance of getting enough vitamin D during your pregnancy. The reason why this one nutrient is so important is because vitamin D provides your growing child with the ability to form healthy bones. While this has obvious implications for the entire skeletal system, the effects of your vitamin D intake will be very obvious with the teeth and jaw of your child. In cases of vitamin D deficiency in children the effects can be as minor as their growth being slightly stunted, or as severe as the development of the beginning stages of Rickets and Osteomalacia. However, these issues are usually easily avoided so long as you kept an eye on your diet during pregnancy.

Assuming your child received adequate nutrition while they were growing, there are several more things that you must do as parents to ensure their continued health.

    • Never send your child to bed with a glass of milk, juice, or a bottle.
      Dental caries (cavities) occur when bacteria rests in the mouth for an extended period of time. The main food source for these harmful bacteria is sugar. Milk (especially breast milk) and juice have a very high sugar content. When these liquids stay in your baby’s mouth overnight, the bacteria is given enough time to do serious damage. If you must send them to bed with some sort of refreshment, your best choice is water.
    • Keep your babies mouth clean.
      From birth until 12 months old, you must clean their gums with a clean, soft, washcloth. When you notice their first tooth, use a baby toothbrush and a tiny amount of toothpaste. From 12 to 36 months, you should brush their teeth twice a day for two minutes each time with a smear of fluoride toothpaste.
    • Transition your child to using a cup to drink with.
      At 12 to 15 months of age, you should try to switch from a bottle to a cup at feeding time.
    • When possible, avoid feeding them sugary foods/drinks.
      This one is fairly self-explanatory since it is advice that your dentist probably gives you at your dental checkups. Speaking of which…
    • Begin regularly scheduled checkups with your baby’s dentist.
      You should be taking your child to their first dentist appointment when they are 6 to 12 months old. Your doctor will oversee their development, and take some of the stress off your shoulders.

SOURCES:

    • https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/teething-tooth-care/Pages/How-to-Prevent-Tooth-Decay-in-Your-Baby.aspx
    • http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/life-stages/childrens-oral-care/article/toddler-tooth-decay-and-how-to-prevent-it-0314
    • http://www.mychildrensteeth.org/oralhealth/toothdecay/?_ga=1.208171858.1139502982.1477332093
    • http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/DataStatistics/FindDataByTopic/DentalCaries/DentalCariesChildren2to11.htm?_ga=1.174289762.1139502982.1477332093
    • http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rickets/symptoms-causes/dxc-20200468

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