Did you know that tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children? Read on to learn more about why it's important for children to receive oral health care, and how you can help protect your child's teeth from decay and other problems.
What is tooth decay?
Tooth decay is the destruction of the hard, outer layer of your teeth (the enamel). The type of decay seen in young children and infants is commonly called "baby bottle tooth decay."
What causes decay, and how can it be prevented?
Consuming too many sugary drinks and snacks can cause tooth decay. It is important to limit the amount of sugary beverages your child drinks to avoid prolonged exposure of the liquid to teeth. These beverages include soft drinks or sweetened fruit juice.
When should my child see the dentist?
The ideal time for a first dental visit is six months after your child's first tooth erupts, or by his or her first birthday. After the the first visit, your child should see the dentist every six months. Early visits will help familiarize him or her with the dental office, reducing anxiety and making future visits less stressful.
How can I protect my child's oral health at home?
To properly care for your child's teeth, follow these tips:
- Clean your infant's gums with a clean, damp cloth after each feeding.
- As soon as your child's first teeth come in, begin brushing them with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and water.
- Encourage your child to drink tap or fountain water. If you buy bottled water, make sure that it is fluoridated. Fluoride makes the entire tooth structure more resistant to decay and promotes remineralization.
- When your child is old enough, encourage him or her to brush to build self-confidence. Always monitor your child's brushing technique and thoroughness.
Talk with your dentist for more information about how to care for your child's teeth.