Did you know that dental caries, also known as tooth decay, is the most common chronic childhood illness? Tooth decay is 5 times more common than asthma and 7 times more common than hay fever. Pain and infection caused by tooth decay can lead to problems in eating, speaking and learning. As we celebrate Children’s Dental Health Month, we want you to know the facts and learn how you can keep your child’s smile shining brightly. Remember: treatment is good, prevention is better, but early prevention is best!
Starting off right: Infants
- Beginning at birth, clean infant gums with a damp cloth or soft toothbrush and warm water after each feeding, and check gums daily.
- All children should visit the dentist before age one and can go as early as 6 months. Children with special needs may require earlier and more frequent appointments.
- Avoid spreading bacteria to babies: don’t clean your baby's pacifier in your mouth or share utensils.
- Never put your baby to bed with a bottle containing anything other than water – the milk that is left in a child's mouth after the bottle is removed can cause early childhood caries.
- Remember – it's never too soon to develop a cavity
Teach good habits: Young Children
- Help your child brush their teeth until they are at least 8 years old. Ensure that they use a jiggle, jiggle motion to clean all surfaces: front, back and top of teeth.
- Teach them to brush "3": their TEETH, their TONGUE and their GUMS to remove germs and freshen breath.
- Brush at least twice a day!
Using the right tools Dental Supplies and Treatments
- Use a soft bristled toothbrush and replace it every 3-4 months, or if child has been sick.
- Use a thin smear of fluoride toothpaste for infants, pea-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste for kids age 3-6, and use slightly more when they're older.
- Have children spit out tooth paste after brushing (don’t swallow!).
- Ask your dentist or pediatrician about which fluoride toothpaste, varnish, mouth rinses and supplements are recommended for your child.
Keep up the good work: All Children
- Visit your dentist once every 6 months.
- Eat plenty of tooth-friendly snacks such as fruits, vegetables, cheese and yogurt. Avoid starchy and sticky snacks that can cling to teeth and cause decay.
- Removable orthodontic appliances (retainers) and mouthguards should be cleaned daily using a denture cleaning bath and rinsed thoroughly before being reinserted into mouth.