Though most parents try to take good care of their children’s health, according to the American Dental Association, over 50% of kids between the ages of 2 and 8 suffer from a preventable chronic disease: tooth decay. This February is National Children’s Dental Health Month and we’re urging parents to rethink oral hygiene. Even though baby teeth are not permanent, it is still imperative that parents properly care for their child’s oral hygiene at an early age. Healthy baby teeth aid children in chewing, digesting, and speaking, while promoting healthy adult teeth. By taking preventative measures early on, parents can combat their child’s risk of tooth decay, eliminating years of future pain, cavities, or discomfort.
Preventative Measures to Keep Teeth Healthy
Tooth decay occurs when plaque, a sticky substance that grows on teeth, gradually erodes enamel with acid. This process of decay leads to increased risks of cavities, sensitivity to hot or cold, and pain. Because decay can occur in adults, children, and infants, we encourage parents to bring their kids as early as possible for their first dental appointment. In fact, once a child’s first tooth appears—typically between the ages of 3-6 months—it is time to schedule an appointment with a dentist. These appointments effectively diagnose and treat a number of small issues like gum irritation, teething, and grinding before they become larger problems that hinder oral health.
The American Academy of General Dentistry recommends that parents schedule two dentist visits annually, limit sugary food and drinks that children consume, and take their child to the dentist if any problem arises throughout the year. At home, parents should encourage children to brush with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and floss daily for proper oral hygiene. By encouraging kids to brush and floss when they are young, children are more likely to maintain these crucial habits for life.
Parents should help younger children brush their teeth until age 8 to make sure they are safely cleaning their mouths. Since children may accidentally swallow fluoride toothpaste, parents should use a dab the size of a grain of rice to prevent any harmful side effects. Even for infants without any teeth, parents should still provide good oral care by wiping the baby’s gums with a gauze pad or washcloth after feeding.
Want to Learn More About Children’s Dental Health?
If you are ready to schedule an appointment or have any questions about children’s dental health, call us today. We can’t wait to help you keep your child’s smile happy, healthy, and pearly-white! By scheduling regular visits with a trusted dentist and practicing healthy oral hygiene at home, parents can help children establish habits that keep teeth healthy for life—all while minimizing risks of tooth decay or other oral diseases.