There is so much to do, learn, and figure out as a new parent. Unfortunately, dental care and oral hygiene are often forgotten in the early years of a child’s life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cavities and tooth decay are one of the most common chronic diseases that affect children in the United States. More than half of kids aged 6 to 8 years old have had a cavity in at least one of their baby teeth and more than half of kids aged 12 to 19 years old have had at least one cavity in their permanent teeth. Untreated dental and oral problems can lead to pain, infection, and issues with eating, drinking, speaking, playing, and learning. Children who have poor oral health are more likely to miss school and get lower grades compared to children who have good oral health. So, what can parents do to help?
Start Dental and Oral Care Early
The good news is that cavities are preventable! Parents and caregivers can start promoting good oral care as early as infancy. For babies, it is recommended to wipe their gums twice a day with a soft clean cloth. This helps remove any bacteria or sugar that may cause cavities. When a child’s teeth start to come in, begin brushing their teeth twice a day using a small soft toothbrush and water. You can start taking your child to a pediatric dentist as early as one year old. They may recommend having a dental sealant applied to help prevent cavities.
When To Start Using Fluoride Toothpaste
The CDC recommends the use of fluoride toothpaste after a child turns two years old. At this stage, you will still have to brush your child’s teeth for them or observe them while they do it. It may take a child a while to learn good tooth brushing skills. You should always watch a child under six years old brush their teeth and make sure they are doing it correctly and that they always spit out the toothpaste. Children who practice good oral care and brush twice daily using fluoride toothpaste are less likely to get cavities.
How Do I Learn More?
Your pediatric dentist is your best resource when it comes to answering your kid’s oral and dental health questions. If you haven’t taken your young child to the dentist yet, make an appointment today. Dental health is an essential part of overall good health.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, April 6). Children’s oral health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved January 12, 2023