Protect Your Child’s Teeth
Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among children, and unfortunately, children who develop cavities in their baby teeth are more likely to develop cavities in their permanent teeth as well. Protect your child from tooth decay and other oral health issues by taking steps to care for your child’s teeth through his or her childhood.
How can I protect my child from tooth decay?
Prolonged exposure to sugar-containing liquids can cause tooth decay in children, so limit your child’s consumption of sugary beverages like soft drinks or sweetened fruit juice. If you give your child a sippy cup for long periods of time, fill it only with water and don’t allow him or her to take it to bed. Children should learn to drink from a regular cup as early as possible as liquid is less likely to collect around teeth that way. You also should limit your child’s consumption of sugary and starchy snacks, especially those that can remain stuck in teeth after eating.
When should my child see a dentist?
The best way to prevent oral health problems is to take your child to a dentist regularly. After your child’s first dental visit, which should occur six months after the child’s first tooth erupts or by the child’s first birthday, he or she should see the dentist every six months. Some dentists schedule appointments for very young children every three months. Early visits will help familiarize your child with the dental office, reducing anxiety and making future visits less stressful. In addition to examining the development of your child’s mouth, the dentist can teach you how to ensure good oral health and recommend special preventive care if necessary.
How can I promote my child’s oral health at home?
A proper at-home oral health care regiment is important. Parents should care for their child’s oral hygiene until the child is old enough to take responsibility for the daily routine of brushing and flossing. To help promote good oral health, follow these simple steps:
Good oral health begins with a well-balanced diet
Everybody knows that a well-balanced diet is good for a healthy lifestyle. Your food choices affect your body - but they also greatly affect your oral health. What you choose to eat helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Your mouth, teeth and gums are also your tools for eating, chewing and swallowing so it's important to keep them healthy with the right foods.
A HEALTHY DIET
According to choosemyplate.gov, a website from the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, a balanced diet should include:
Combined, these should cover half your plate at meals.
Half the grains you eat should be whole grains.
Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
Make lean protein choices.
DIET AND TOOTH DECAY
According to the American Dental Association, the foods you eat and what you drink can have a direct influence on how often cavities occur and how they progress. This is dependent on a few factors including:
LIMIT THE SUGAR IN YOUR DIET
Bacteria found in your mouth feed off of the sugars in food and release acids, which can lead to tooth decay. Sweets and snack foods are a concern because of the amount and type of sugar they contain, not to mention that they offer little or no nutritional value.
Sugary drinks like soda, lemonade and sweetened coffee or tea are particularly harmful because the constant sipping creates a sugar bath over the teeth and promotes tooth decay.
FOODS THAT MAY BENEFIT DENTAL HEALTH
Foods rich in calcium and other nutrients are good for tooth health. They include cheese, milk, yogurt, leafy greens and almonds. For sources of phosphorous, try protein-rich foods like meat, poultry, fish and eggs. Both calcium and phosphorous are important for protecting and rebuilding tooth enamel.
Other healthy food choices are fruits and vegetables, since they are high in both water and fiber. These foods also help stimulate saliva production, which will wash harmful acids and food particles away from the teeth. Many contain Vitamin C, which is important for healthy gums and quick healing of wounds, and also Vitamin, which is a key nutrient in building tooth enamel.