Healthy teeth and gums not only increase confidence and create a more pleasant smile, they’re also essential to the overall health of your child’s body. However, when it comes to kids and tooth decay, it can be a challenge to stay ahead of the “sugar bugs,” especially if your child likes making brushing time a monumental struggle. Following a few simple do’s and don’ts can go a long way to helping prevent cavities and other oral health issues in your child.
Kids and Tooth Decay: The Do’s
- Do start taking care of your child’s oral health before the first tooth even comes through. Use a moist washcloth to wipe your baby’s gums at least once a day. When the first tooth erupts, replace the washcloth with a soft toothbrush designed for babies.
- Do take your child to the dentist before age three, preferably before her first birthday if possible. Not only will this allow you to get ahead of any problems, it will get your child used to the dentist before she reaches the age where she is more likely to be fearful of that chair.
- Do consider giving your child fluoride if it’s not in your tap water. This one is actually a little controversial, as too much fluoride can be a bad thing. Check with your dentist to determine if your child needs it.
- Do encourage your child to brush twice a day, and supervise brushing habits until your child is about 8-years-old, or until you are certain they have the routine down.
- Do skip the sugary hard candy and sticky taffy. Instead, opt for chocolate, which melts quickly and leaves behind far fewer “sugar bugs.”
- Do opt for snacks that contain higher levels of protein, such as cheese. Protein provides a little extra protection against tooth decay.
Kids and Tooth Decay: The Don’ts
- Don’t let your baby go to bed with a bottle in his mouth. The milk or formula can settle on their teeth and eat away at the enamel.
- Don’t forget to floss. When dealing with kids and tooth decay, the areas between the teeth often develop cavities because children tend to only brush the spaces they can see.
- Don’t let your children drink soda too often, even if it’s diet soda. Not only is it completely devoid of any nutritional value, it contains acids that can wreak havoc on their teeth. On occasions that you do allow soda, have your child drink it through a straw.
- Don’t treat brushing like a chore. Focus on the benefits and make it as fun as possible by letting your child pick out the toothbrush and toothpaste. If brushing is a major ordeal, increase the fun by using a cool timer or making it a game.
By getting ahead of the “sugar bugs” and keeping up with your child’s routine, you can get ahead of the kids and tooth decay issue and help your child develop good habits that will last a lifetime.