Published on November 1, 2016, Updated on April 16, 2020
Preventing cavities starts with habits that are in place long before the first tooth emerges. As the child grows up, cleaning inside the mouth won’t seem unfamiliar if you have integrated daily oral hygiene habits. Dr. Nam can work with you to help establish treatment strategies that are appropriate for the age and development of your child. She can also provide you with ways to make the process fun. Tooth-cleaning can be a bonding time if you work to establish it as a positive time between you and your child. Learn how!
Prevention strategies are the best way to help safeguard your child from the oral health hazards that may try to cause her to stumble. But healthy habits do more than that; they help cement positive relationships between the caregivers in your child’s dental home with the caregivers in your own. Keeping your child’s dental health where it needs to be is a group effort. Dr. Nam, and our team at Hardy Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics is dedicated to building a strong, positive foundation you and your child can continue to build on. The following habits should be started even before the first tooth emerges:
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends children be seen for an exam as early as one year of age or within six months of the eruption of the first baby tooth. We want to partner with you so that you can start this journey with your baby empowered with the best education and prevention strategies and tips we can offer you for success. To help you do this, we offer a free infant dental exam to both expose your child to the world of great oral health care as well as help educate you on how to have success at home with your child.
Even before teeth arrive, start cleaning your child’s gumline with a warm, wet washcloth or a dampened piece of gauze wrapped around your finger, after you feed her. You can also use special finger brushes (pictured above) to aid in cleaning. Begin establishing healthy oral routines by cleaning your child’s gumline after meals, in the morning and at bedtime. This will allow your child to smoothly transition into the oral care process when teeth emerge.
Baby bottle tooth decay is a real thing. Sugars left to fester on emerging teeth and gums can cause great damage. Avoid putting a baby to bed with a bottle of milk (or worse, juice)–well known for causing cavities. Don’t leave your infant with a bottle for long periods of time, especially if you notice she’s no longer feeding and is just using the bottle for comfort.
You might be surprised by the power of water to help fight cavities, but water can play an essential role. Most of the foods your child will be consuming when they are in the baby stage will wash off her teeth/gums with little effort. By offering your child a drink of water after meals, you help cleanse the mouth from harmful bacteria and buildup. Water will also help your child receive dental protection through your communities fluoridated water supply. Fluoride is important for preventing tooth decay. If you live in an area that does not have fluoridated water, once your child has reached 6 months of age, talk to Dr. Nam about the use of fluoride supplements.
Food choices and eating patterns play a vital role in preventing, or promoting, tooth decay. Heavy sugar consumption has long been associated with tooth decay. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), preschoolers with a daily caloric intake of 1,200 to 1,400 calories should avoid consumption of more than 170 calories, (4 teaspoons), of added sugar a day. Children ages 4-8 with a daily caloric intake of about 1,600 calories should not consume more than 130 calories, or about 3 teaspoons a day. Part of Hardy Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics’ comprehensive oral health education plan also includes the vital role of nutrition for healthy teeth and bones. Along with limiting your sugar intake, make sure your child is getting her vitamins. Teeth need the vital nutrients vitamins supply to stay strong and healthy. Introducing a varied diet allows your child a better chance at receiving all the vitamins she needs.
Now is the time to schedule your child’s free infant dental exam. Don’t delay! Beginning early helps create positive relationships with oral care from the start. It also helps you to practice the best dental treatment–prevention! Catch problems when they are small and stop them in their tracks. Hardy Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics can help your child develop a healthy, functional, and attractive smile. To learn more about our children’s dental services or to schedule an appointment, call our Erie office today at 720-887-6003.