No parent wants to hear that their child has cavities. But with the amount of sugary, unhealthy foods available, cavities and tooth decay are at an all time high. Even babies who have yet to start teething are at risk for tooth decay. Keep reading for our tips on how to prevent cavities in infants and young children.
The best way to ensure your child has a healthy mouth is to make sure that they visit a pediatric dentist regularly. The team at Woodbridge Kids Dentistry are all specially trained in pediatric dentistry and will help you make sure your child maintains good oral health!
Before Baby Teeth
You can start cavity prevention before your child’s teeth even appear. Take a clean, damp washcloth and gently wipe your baby’s gums after a feeding. This will help prevent bacteria from building up on their gums. If you do this regularly it can help your baby become accustomed to oral health care.
Cavity Prevention for Babies
Don’t put your baby to sleep with a bottle; exposure to the sugars in fruit juices or milk overnight can cause damage to your baby’s tooth enamel, which will make cavity prevention harder, especially while your child’s enamel is still developing.
When your child starts getting their baby teeth, clean them regularly with a toothbrush designed for babies; these toothbrushes have extra soft bristles that are much more gentle on infant mouths. Avoid using toothpaste until your child is old enough to understand not to swallow it; instead just dampen the brush and carefully clean your child’s teeth and gums to remove plaque and other debris.
If your baby uses a pacifier, you should avoid dipping it in anything with sugar. Even before your child starts getting their teeth, the sugars in foods can still attract bacteria in your child’s mouth and start tooth decay and other problems. Also, you shouldn’t use your own mouth to clean the pacifier if it falls on the ground; the cavity-causing bacteria can actually be transferred from your mouth to your child’s. Instead wash it under warm water before giving it back to your child.
Cavity Prevention for Young Children
As your child gets older, stress the importance of proper tooth brushing to them. Children between the ages of 2 to 5 should use a “pea-sized” amount of toothpaste, and should be supervised while brushing their teeth. Also, flossing can be introduced as soon as your child has all of their teeth.
You can show them how to do it properly, or have your child’s dentist show them at their next appointment. Your child should visit the dentist at least once a year to ensure their teeth are healthy and developing properly.
Give your child healthy snacks that are free from added sugars, such as yogurts, cheese, crackers, fruits and vegetables. Remember, while fruits are good for your developing child, they still contain natural sugars and citric acid, which can be harmful to teeth. Sugary snacks should be limited, and given in small portions. Make sure that they brush their teeth after each time that they eat to remove bacteria and reduce their risk of getting a cavity.