Don't underestimate the value of teaching children about oral health and hygiene at an early age. Tooth decay leads to a whole host of other issues that can last a lifetime. Many parents begin taking their babies to a pediatric dentist before they even have teeth, though it is recommended that you take them around age one, around six months after their first tooth comes in.
The repercussions of poor oral hygiene can be cavities, which leads to other challenges and problems:
- Chronic bad breath.
- Social stigma and issues with self-esteem.
- Pain, discomfort, and swelling.
- Potential infections and complications.
- Difficulty eating or drinking, which could contribute to weight loss.
Avoid these issues and prevent apprehension of dental providers by taking your children to the dentist early and acclimating them to the experience of a regular, routine dental exam.
Help your child prevent cavities now:
Demonstrate good brushing form. It is recommended that children – and adults – brush after every meal and snack, at a minimum of twice daily; if you get them to brush, are they doing it right? Spend time demonstrating proper brushing to ensure they are getting rid of the plaque that can cause a cavity later.
Get rid of the bottles. If you want to prevent decay in teeth that may not even have erupted through the gums yet, get rid of the bottle and the sippy-cup. Milk and juice contain sugar which sits on the teeth when your child has a bottle or sippy-cup in their mouth. Encourage sips from a regular cup when they are old enough and if you must use a bottle or baby-cup, fill it with water instead.
Ensure children drink plenty of water. Make sure that your children drink plenty of water for two reasons: one, it helps to remove residue and sugar from teeth between brushing, and two, it combats dry mouth, which also contributes to tooth decay.
Take care of teeth to avoid injury. Tooth trauma puts your child's teeth at increased risk of decay. A chipped or cracked tooth is more vulnerable to a cavity so deter any activity that could compromise your child's teeth, like using teeth to open packaging or chewing on items that are not edible.
Make an appointment to visit a pediatric dentistry office at least every year, though many suggest having teeth examined and cleaned every six months. Don't let your child suffer the consequences of tooth decay and cavities; model good oral hygiene to get kids in the habit now!