Good oral hygiene should start as early as the first years of a child’s life. Developing healthy dental habits young will help them continue as they grow older. They can avoid many of the problems that result from poor oral health, including gum disease, cavities, and tooth decay. It is also believed that mouth disease can detriment the health of other parts of your body.
Cavities are one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood. Untreated cavities can cause pain, infections, and can lead to problems eating, speaking, and learning. More than 1 in 5 children aged 2 to 5 years has at least one cavity in their baby teeth. Children from low-income families are more than twice as likely to have untreated cavities, compared with children from higher-income households.
Cavities are preventable by following some basic steps below:
- Expecting moms should practice good oral hygiene when they are pregnant – as it can affect the health of your baby’s teeth.
- For infants, wipe their gums after each meal with a warm cloth.
- Avoid putting babies to bed with a bottle.
- When baby teeth start to service, brush their teeth twice daily with a baby toothpaste.
- Limit drinks and food with added sugars for children.
- Encourage your child to eat more fruits and vegetables and have fewer fruit drinks, cookies, and candies.
- Schedule your child’s first dental visit by their first birthday or after their first tooth appears.
Diet is Important
A good healthy diet should start when your child is young. The right foods and nourishment will help develop strong, healthy teeth. When we eat sugary foods, bacteria in the mouth produce acid. This acid eats away minerals from the tooth’s surface, making the tooth weaker and increasing the chance of developing cavities. Include good sources of calcium (yogurt, broccoli, and milk) to your child’s diet to help build strong teeth. Teaching your child about healthy eating habits is one of the best practices for a lifetime of good health.
Tips to healthful eating:
- Eat fruits and vegetables for snacks rather than candies and cookies.
- Serve water at mealtime rather than juice or soda.
- Fluoride is a naturally occurring element in water and is controlled to achieve the best prevention of tooth decay and help rebuild the surface of teeth.
Many pediatric dentists will recommend dental sealants on back teeth where 9 in 10 cavities occur. It’s a a quick, easy, and painless way to prevent most cavities. Children aged 6 to 11 years without sealants have almost 3 times more first-molar cavities than children with sealants.
In general, practicing good oral hygiene early in life ensures good healthy habits into adulthood.