Good oral health habits start young. Unfortunately, so do bad habits. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than half of all children have at least one cavity by second grade. This means cavities are five times more common than asthma in American children.
Perhaps you shrug off your child’s cavities because you think baby teeth don’t matter. However, damaged primary teeth can cause gum infections or fall out prematurely. Plus, children who develop cavities in their baby teeth are more likely to get cavities in their permanent teeth as adults.
Fortunately, as the parent of a preschooler, you have the power to help your child avoid cavities and maintain a healthy smile well into grade school and even into adulthood. Here are the top seven ways to prevent cavities in preschoolers.
Keep Your Own Teeth Healthy
Your health habits affect your child while you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. By practicing good oral hygiene habits at home and visiting the dentist every six months, you keep your teeth healthy and reduce the transmission of cavity germs to your fetus or infant. This is an important first step to prevent cavities in preschoolers.
Limit Your Child’s Juice Intake
Fill your baby’s bottle with breast milk, formula, or water – never juice or other sweetened drinks. Wait until your baby is at least 12 months old to give him juice, and even then, dilute it and limit consumption to meal and snack times. No matter your child’s age, never put him to bed with a bottle or cup of juice.
Ditch the Bottle by Age 1
Drinking from a bottle past this age can lead to bite problems and speech impediments. To encourage teeth to grow in properly, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry encourages parents to switch to sippy cups by the child’s first birthday.
Use Pacifiers Properly
If your child uses a pacifier, never dip it in anything sweet like honey or corn syrup. If the pacifier falls on the ground, don’t put it into your own mouth to “clean” it. This could transfer cavity-causing germs from your mouth to your baby’s. Instead, rinse the pacifier with hot water and soap before giving it back.
Offer Healthy Snacks
Don’t let your preschooler eat a lot of candy. Offer naturally sweet treats instead, including yogurt and fruit. Other snacks such as lean meat, peanut butter, milk, cheese, and vegetables support a healthy mouth as well. When you do offer sweets, limit the portion size and frequency.
If you’re unsure whether a snack is good for your child’s teeth, check his mouth 20 minutes after eating. If his teeth are still filled with food, remove that snack as an option.
Start Brushing as Soon as Baby Teeth Appear
When your baby still has a mouthful of gums, gently wipe the surface with a warm, clean washcloth after each feeding and before bed. Then, as soon as you see the first tooth appear, begin brushing twice a day with a soft, baby-size toothbrush and a smear of fluoridated child toothpaste.
For children ages 2 to 5, use a pea-size amount of child toothpaste and assist in the tooth-brushing process. You know you can leave your child alone to brush his teeth once he can tie his shoes or write his name clearly – usually around age 5 or 6.
Visit the Dentist Around Your Child’s First Birthday
The initial trip to the dentist determines your child’s risk for cavities based on your own dental history. Even if the risk is low, following the above tips is still important to prevent gingivitis and other oral health problems.
Choose Evanson DDS as Your Pediatric Dentist
With our family dentistry offerings, the whole family can brighten their smile with bi-annual trips to see Dr. Evanson. We know that visiting the dentist can be scary for some kids, so our team of hygienists and doctors do everything possible to make our young patients feel at ease in our office.
For more tips to help prevent cavities in preschoolers, or to schedule an appointment for your child with Dr. Evanson, please call our Parker office today at (720) 409-0008.Leave a reply →