Every child deserves to grow with a beautiful, healthy smile. That’s why dental care and hygiene for kids at a tender age really matters. With tooth decay now considered the most common childhood disease, new parents have to be concerned about the dental health of their toddlers. Up to 20% of children cavities go untreated, resulting in tooth development and oral health issues later in life. Even at a very young age, toddlers can be exposed to bacteria that eats away at primary teeth, resulting in cavities that could cause dental problems.
Despite these statistics, tooth decay is preventable. For any concerned parent, understanding the steps to take to avoid toddler tooth decay is critical. The key to a healthy dental routine for your toddler is starting as early as possible. Here are a few pediatric dentist recommendations to prevent tooth decay at an early age:
Take Good Care of Your Own Oral Health
It’s normal to see mothers sharing spoons with their kids while feeding, kissing their babies when playing around, and even cleaning a pacifier with their mouth. However innocent these acts of love may be, mothers should know that dental hygiene and care starts with them. It’s important to be aware that cavity or tooth decaying bacteria can be spread from your mouth to your child’s. Even before your baby is born, it’s important to take dental health seriously.
That’s why pediatric dentists recommend that parents should take care of their own teeth first, to minimize the potential transmission of harmful bacteria. You don’t want your child to lose their teeth prematurely due to decay, or you having to spend money on costly toddler tooth decay treatment, knowing very well that you can prevent cavities in the first place.
Year-One Dental Visit is Critical
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends taking your toddler to the dentist at one year. While infant oral care often starts even before you see the first baby tooth, bringing in your baby for dental checkup at 12 months is perhaps the number one way to prevent toddler tooth decay. This decision starts by choosing the right “dental home”. This is where you’re going to establish an ongoing relationship with the dentist and your family.
Seeing a pediatric dentist is not just about getting treatment for dental issues, but is also a key stepping stone when it comes to learning healthy dental habits and cavity prevention for you and your kids. Early and regular dental check-ups help keep tooth decay from turning into deep and painful cavities that may require expensive treatment procedures to treat. Kids with healthy teeth are able to chew food easily, smile with confidence and learn to speak clearly.
Fluoride Toothpaste is Recommended
Young children need fluoride to help their developing teeth grow strong. When used on a regular basis, it helps prevent tooth decay as your kid grows older. Meeting your child’s fluoride needs is critical. Unlike popular belief, you don’t have to waste your money on non-fluoridated “baby training toothpaste” for your toddler. In fact, the American Dental Association (ADA), recommends that parents start using fluoride toothpaste as soon as their toddlers get their first baby tooth to prevent toddler tooth decay as earliest as possible.
To avoid the chances of your toddler swallowing toothpaste when brushing their teeth, you should only use a smear of toothpaste, then graduate to pea-sized toothpaste for kids aged 4 to 6. Fluoride works well by making the teeth stronger and less susceptible to decay by bacteria in the mouth. Whether you opt to buy flavored or unflavored fluoride toothpaste, any will do, so long as you’re able to stick with a strict brushing routine without issues with your baby, at least twice a day.
Watch Your Toddler’s Diet
As a parent, you need to prioritize the health and well-being of your kids, and this starts with ensuring your toddler is having a balanced diet. Healthy eating habits play a huge role in promoting good dental care. You’ll want to limit the frequency of snacking for your kids, as sugary foods and drinks tend to increase the chances of developing cavities, which will only end up costing you more as you manage toddler tooth decay treatment.
Sodas, juices, sticky candies, starchy foods, sweets, and Gatorade are some of the snacks you’ll want to limit to mealtimes while ensuring your kids brush their teeth immediately after eating. Healthier food options that you can consider, include lots of watery fruits and vegetables like apples, celery, mangoes, watermelon, carrots, and others, as they help scrub plaque from your kid’s teeth as they eat. The right diet will help prevent toddler tooth decay.
Embrace Preventative Dental Care
In addition to practicing the recommendations above, it’s important to embrace preventative dental care from an early age. For instance, you should learn the baby bottle mistakes to avoid, as misusing them can easily lead to tooth decay. To avoid oral issues, avoid putting sugary liquids in baby bottles and leaving your baby with them. Instead, fill them with water or diluted liquids with a higher percentage of water.
Simply because your toddler has not developed baby teeth doesn’t mean you neglect their oral health. Use a clean, damp cloth to clean their mouth gently after feeding to get rid of any bacteria. You should also embrace a culture of brushing and flossing your teeth with your kids, as it makes it a fun way to ensure dental hygiene while also offering you an opportunity to supervise their brushing time. To ensure better protection of your kid’s teeth, a pediatric dentist may recommend options like dental sealants that go a long way in preventing cavities.
Toddler tooth decay is a major problem for parents across U.S. Tooth decay can lead to problems like missed school, loss of appetite, and lost sleep. Don’t wait until it’s late to start caring about your kid’s dental health. Preventing cavity problems is a daily, life-long process that’s well worth the effort when started early. For more information about how you can keep your kids’ teeth healthy, don’t hesitate to contact us at Children’s Dentistry of Las Vegas.