In honor of February being National Children’s Dental Health Month, we thought it would be appropriate to do a blog on the awareness of oral health in children!
We all know the classic teething signs: drooling, sore gums, irritability, etc. Moms everywhere know what their babies are going through and try everything to help soothe them. After your little one finally pushes through all 20 perfectly white beauties, the battle isn’t over yet! As soon as their first baby tooth starts to surface, your child is susceptible to tooth decay.
Starting early on, cleaning your baby’s gums with a wash cloth will help keep your child’s mouth clean and free of bacteria leftover from breast milk and other baby food. Once teeth start to poke through, you can use a baby toothbrush and gently clean their teeth.
According to the ADA, the use of fluoride in children under 6 years old can be used to help reduce cavities in their teeth. For children less than 3 years, do not use more than the size of a grain of rice; for children 3 to 6 years of age, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
Even if you do everything you are supposed to do to take care of your child’s oral health, they can still get cavities! That bacterium has to come from somewhere. Here’s what you need to know:
Q: How does the bacterium that causes tooth decay appear in a baby or a young toddler?
A: That’s a great question and there are multiple reasons:
- Decay causing bacteria can be transferred from person to person. That means if mom or dad hasn’t seen the dentist in a while and are harboring the bacteria, they can transfer it to their child. The American Dental Association (ADA) strongly recommends that new or expecting mothers be up to date on their dental visits and get any necessary work done as soon as possible to prevent transmission.
- One of the most common causes of tooth decay in young children, according to the ADA, is “Unrestricted, at-will consumption of liquids, beverages and foods containing fermentable carbohydrates… ”. Basically, anything that can be broken down into a sugar, as we have all been taught, needs to be cleaned off of the tooth surface at a recommended two times daily with a toothbrush. Kids are no exception! Proper oral hygiene at a young age is essential. That may mean helping your little one out while they are still learning.
Here’s the good news. It’s all preventable! The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) says that 50% of children will never see a dentist, so start there! Be the parent that starts out on the right foot. Taking your child in for a “happy visit” just to meet the Dr. and staff will help ease your child into the dental office setting while at the same time make it a fun experience!
Here are a few more recommendations to help keep your child happy and their teeth healthy:
- Take your child to see the dentist within 6 months of their first front tooth coming in and no later than 12 months! Again, the sooner they are brought to the office, the more comfortable with the environment they will be later on.
- Always provide a well-balance diet and avoid letting your child drink sugary drinks throughout the entire day. If your child likes to drink during the day, fill a sippy cup full of water.
- Finally, make oral hygiene fun for your child! Find games and other fun activities that encourage your child to take care of their teeth. MouthHealthy is a great website powered by the ADA that has a great section for kids including short, 10 minute informational movies and coloring pages.