10 important tips for the children ages 0-3
At about 6 months of age, the baby teeth begin to erupt. Last baby tooth comes in at about 36 months of age. Tooth decay is a common disorder, second only to the common cold. It usually occurs in children and young adults, but it can affect anyone. Preventing tooth decay is one of the most important things you can do for your child and their teeth.
- Ask your dentist about the Fluoride supplements for the baby. Whether the mother is breast-Feeding or using formula, the doctor may prescribe fluoride drops or a vitamin-fluoride combination for the baby. Fluoride not only helps prevent tooth decay, it cures beginning cavities.
- Do NOT put your baby to bed with a bottle! Letting a baby sleep with a bottle – or nurse continuously, if breast-feeding – can cause serious dental cavities, called Early Childhood Cavities (ECC). ECC, also known as baby bottle caries, baby bottle tooth decay, and bottle rot, is a major health concern that continues to negatively affect the oral health of infants and children today.
- Water is the best drink: If the baby is placed to sleep with a bottle, use nothing but water. At 6-12 months of age, babies should begin drinking from a sippee cup. Most children begin reaching for things at this age and that makes it a perfect time to introduce a drinking cup. At 12-14 months, babies should be weaned from the bottle.
- Be smart about juice. Juice is not part of a healthy diet. Juices have more sugar and less fiber than actual fruits. If you must give juice, water it down. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises no more than 4 fl oz (120 mL) to 6 fl oz (180 mL) of 100% fruit juice a day for children 1 to 6 years old. This means ½ cup to ¾ cup.
- Clean your Baby’s Gums and Brush your toddler’s teeth: For your baby, Use a clean, damp washcloth, finger cot or gauze square to gently wipe baby’s gums and tongue daily. This helps ready the baby for the teeth cleaning to come. When the teeth erupt, clean the child’s teeth at least twice a day with a toothbrush designed for small children. Brush toddler’s teeth after breakfast and before bedtime
- Mother’s Oral health is very important! Cavity is a contagious disease. Babies can “catch” cavities from their caregivers. In 71 percent of the cases, the mother is the source. Research indicates that the cavity-causing bacteria known as Streptococcus mutans can be transmitted from mothers to infants even before teeth erupt. These cavity-causing germs can be passed on to baby by daily contact such as sharing food and letting baby stick her fingers in her mother’s mouth. The better the mother’s oral health, the less the chance the baby will have problems.
- Limit the number of times toddler eats snacks each day: Food does not cause tooth decay, eating does! Children’s dental health depends less on what they eat and more on how often they eat it. Children this age usually snack often. Sweet and starchy snacks like chips and crackers should be limited. Constant snacking on sweet or starchy foods can cause cavities. Each time baby drinks soda pop or eats sweet or starchy food, there is a 20 minute “acid attack” on the teeth. Constant snacking causes cavities because the slowly-eaten snack creates a longer “acid attack” on the teeth.
- Get to a dentist early and often: ONE dental visit when there’s ONE tooth can equal ZERO cavities. First dental visits are mostly educational. The AAPD recommends that every child visit the dentist by the child’s first birthday. The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend a child visit the dentist by age one as well. This “well baby check” for the teeth can establish a dental home and helps ensure that parents learn the tools they’ll need to help their children remain cavity-free
- Ask your dentist to help you assess your child’s diet: If children have poor diets, their teeth may not develop properly. Children need protein, vitamins and minerals, especially calcium and phosphorous, to build strong teeth and resist tooth decay and gum disease. Dentists use Caries Management by Risk Assessment (CAMBRA) to prevent or treat dental cavities at the earliest stages.
- Take your child to your own dental appointment: taking your child to your routine dental appointments enables your child to see that taking care of their teeth is a lifetime commitment.
Good NEWS: “Dental decay is preventable,” says AAPD president Jade Miller. When dentists see a cavity forming, they can actually reverse the process. This is why American Dental Association recommends that parents bring their children to the dentist when they get their first tooth or by the time they turn 1. In addition to conducting a thorough oral exam, the dentist will obtain a dental history, guide parents on proper brushing habits and cavity prevention, and establish how often a child should visit, among other things.