Great habits for teeth brushing and oral health care start at a very early age. There are many simple yet effective ways that you can manage your child’s oral health to maintain a strong and healthy set of developing teeth.
Understanding Children’s Oral Health
In the United States, cavities are the most common chronic disease during childhood. More than 50% of children develop at least one cavity in their primary teeth by the ages of 6-8 and at least one cavity in their adult teeth by the age of 12-19.
Cavities, also called caries, are the result of tooth decay and they can worsen over time if left untreated. Untreated cavities are also painful and can lead to infections that interfere with eating and speaking. Being in pain also makes playing less enjoyable and can make it difficult to focus in school.
Risk Factors for Cavities
Sugary drinks or foods are one of the most common causes of cavities, especially when sugar is eaten in between meals. The bacteria responsible for cavities thrive off sugars and carbohydrates left on the teeth. These bacteria can also be spread between close family members, so another risk factor is having siblings or parents with cavities. Sharing food and utensils could initiate the transfer of cavity-causing bacteria. Children who wear braces or oral appliances and those with special health needs are also at an increased risk for cavities.
How to Care for Your Child’s Oral Health
Starting good habits early can set your child up for success when it comes to their oral health and overall well-being. These are a few things to consider during early childhood, and even before your baby is born.
During Early Childhood
Although newborn babies don’t yet have teeth to brush, they can be affected by gum disease. After feedings (especially in the morning and at night), clean their gums with a soft cloth to wipe away milk residue and potential residue. Once their teeth start coming in, use a soft-bristled toothbrush and water to brush their teeth. As soon as their first teeth come in, you can schedule a dental appointment.
Your dentist will be able to assess their growing teeth and give you recommendations about when to start using toothpaste. Typically, fluoride-based toothpastes should not be used before the age of two. As your child grows, continue to help them brush their teeth and watch them until the age of six so that they can properly learn the right techniques for effective brushing.
Schedule an Appointment
At Life-Centered Dentistry, we offer pediatric dental services for children of all ages and are genuinely committed to their health and well-being. To learn more about children’s dentistry, schedule an appointment today at our Grand Rapids office.