The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that dental Caries (tooth decay) is perhaps the most prevalent of infectious diseases in our nation’s children. Dental caries is five times more common than asthma…more than 40% of children have tooth decay by the time they reach kindergarten (American Academy of Pediatrics – Policy Statement)… It is almost 100% preventable.
So with that in mind here are a few easy ways you can prevent putting your child at risk for disease:
1. Avoid a high sugar diet (POG, soda, candy, etc). Stick with all natural fruits and vegetables and drink as much water as possible. If you want to give the water a little flavor, try squeezing some natural fruit or a small amount of 100% juice. A helpful guideline to follow when buying food and drinks is: if you can’t understand the ingredient labels on your groceries, they’re probably foods you’re better off avoiding.
2. Clean your baby’s mouth after every feeding (bottle, snack and meal). Before your baby’s teeth start to erupt, use a damp gauze, wash cloth or similar clean item to wipe around your child’s gums, cheeks and tongue. Once teeth start to erupt, you can keep using the damp cloth to wipe and begin brushing with a soft bristle toothbrush and begin flossing.
3. Put your child to bed with water in the bottle only. Also try to stick with water if your baby is comforted at nap and bedtime with a bottle or sippy cup. Liquids such as some formula, milk and juice can pool around your baby’s mouth and teeth while sleeping and start causing cavities. Sleeping is when they are most vulnerable to acid attack and greatly increases their risk for dental decay. Breast milk is the healthiest food for your baby’s teeth. But, again, if your baby needs to feed in the middle of the night, remember to wipe your baby’s mouth before putting them back down to sleep.
4. Monitor any changes in your baby’s oral cavity. If you have another adult at home, try performing a knee-to-knee exam. One person can gently hold your baby’s hands while the other takes a look inside the mouth (see image below). Don’t be discouraged if your baby starts to cry. This is a typical reaction and will actually give you a better visual of what’s going on inside. If you are the only adult present, try examining your baby with their head face-up on your lap while on the floor or using the end of the changing table. Things you want to be looking for are discoloration (such as white, yellow or brown spots) and anything that looks out of the ordinary.
5. Make your baby’s first dental appointment as soon as teeth start to erupt and no later than one year of age. If you need help choosing the right dentist, ask your doctor, friends and/or family members.
Integrating these steps into your child’s normal routine will help establish healthy habits that will last a life time.
Or feel free to call general dentist, Dr. Sonia Gupta at 808-633-6931. Happy Brushing!
Image Credit: mauimama