This is my favorite time of the year. Spending time with family, traveling, and making memories. We cannot forget all the food we can enjoy! We all know how important it is to take care of ourselves but how do we take care of our children’s teeth? Today, I am sharing tips on keeping your children’s teeth healthy during the holiday season!
The ADA recommends brushing your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth erupts. You can simply use a finger brush or an infant toothbrush. Make sure the toothpaste is fluoridated with the ADA seal. Under 3 years old, all they need is a smear (grain of rice-size) of toothpaste. For ages 3 and up, they can start using pea-sized amounts. For young kids, always try to supervise and help them with brushing. It may be tricky but starting early is key! As soon as the teeth touch each other, you can begin flossing.
Tooth decay is common in young children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 25% of 2 to 5-year-olds have one or more cavities, half of kids 12 to 15 years old have one or more cavities, and tooth decay affects two-thirds of 16 to 19-year-olds. This can be prevented with proper oral hygiene.
It’s a perfect way to make sure your child’s teeth are healthy! They can assess for decay and provide oral health education. Routine preventive care can begin as early as 6 months for some offices. A good guide on when to have the child’s first dentist visit is after the first tooth erupts and no later than their first birthday as per the ADA recommendations. Visiting the dentist early is a great way to help children become comfortable in the dental chair.
Nutrition plays a vital role in oral health. What we eat, especially fermentable carbohydrates can break down into sugar in your mouth. Lots of us love sugary pies and cookies… so eating these goodies in moderation is key! Snacking on sugary treats all day long can cause enamel erosion and tooth decay. It’s best to always aim for healthier options, such as fruits and veggies, which can be high in Vitamin C and helpful in preventing bleeding gums.
Dairy is also great because of the calcium source and ability to provide essential minerals to the enamel. Did you know that eating cheese can be beneficial?! It is an acid neutralizer and does not have added sugar. Adding string cheese to your kids lunch box as a snack is a great idea! Also, try to avoid bottles in bed as the juice, formula, and milk can sit in the mouth and can cause “Baby Bottle Teeth Decay”.
Sealants help prevent tooth decay on adult teeth. When your child eats, bacteria loves to sit in crevices in the back molars (adult teeth) and cause cavities. According to Mouth Healthy, sealants have been shown to reduce the risk of decay by nearly 80% in molars. This is especially important when it comes to your child's dental health. In October 2016, the Centers for Disease Control released a report on the importance of sealants for school-aged children, of which only 43% of children ages 6-11 currently have dental sealants on their teeth. According to the CDC, "school-age children without sealants have almost three times more cavities than children with sealants." So seal those precious molars!
Fluoride is a natural mineral that provides protection against tooth decay and sensitivity. When you visit the dentist, kids are likely to receive a fluoride treatment after their cleanings. According to Kid’s Health, it can be extremely helpful in children as fluoride prevents the acid produced by the bacteria in the plaque from dissolving or demineralizing their teeth. In other words, it can help prevent tooth damage from acid by repairing and remineralizing. It will not repair already formed cavities BUT it can help reverse low levels of decay and prevent new ones from forming. It is also great to use a fluoridated toothpaste to brush with at home, two times each day.
Remember, 2020 is already hard enough on us. But keeping your child’s teeth healthy doesn’t have to be. Don’t stress so much over it and remember the key to prevention is: twice yearly dental checkups, fluoride treatments, and healthy eating! Happy Holidays!
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