Is My Child at Risk for Cavities?
The average healthy adult visits the dentist twice a year. The average healthy 2-year-old has never been to the dentist. By kindergarten, 25 percent of children have never seen a dentist, yet dental decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease in America according to some studies.
Why? Misinformation about when a child should first visit the dentist, when a parent should start caring for a child's teeth and the effects of frequent and long-term exposure of sugary liquids to a child's teeth.
Your child should visit the dentist six months after the eruption of the first tooth. During this first exam, Dr. Gardner can teach parents the best way to guard against cavities. Laura and Jelisa will also spend a great deal of time teaching mom and dad how to assure that they are caring for their child’s teeth in the most effective way.
Frequent and long-term exposure of a child's teeth to sugary liquids causes dental decay. Most parents are aware of baby bottle tooth decay but may not know that the long-term and regular consumption of sugary liquids in a bottle or cup puts children's growing teeth at increased risk for decay.
Caring for children's teeth beginning in infancy promotes good oral health care habits for a lifetime and increases the chances of your child maintaining healthy permanent teeth.
Tips for parents to decrease the risk of early childhood tooth decay:
- Wean a child from the bottle or breast by age 1.
- Use spill-proof cups as a transitional step in the development of children, not a long-term solution.
- Don't allow children to use spill-proof cups throughout the day. Save spill-proof cups for snack and mealtimes when increased salivary activity helps clean teeth.
- Drink sugary beverages through a straw. The best spill-proof cups to protect against decay are those with collapsible rubber straws.
- Introduce oral health care habits early. Wipe baby's gums with a damp cloth after every feeding. Introduce brushing with a soft-bristle brush and water when the first tooth appears. Parents can add a pea-sized dab of fluoridated toothpaste to the toothbrush by age 2.