Tooth decay is almost entirely preventable, yet the incidence of tooth decay in young children has begun to increase. This trend is a serious concern because it reflects the first such increase in years. For decades, the incidence of tooth decay has been declining across the board, but this new trend indicates that we may have become complacent or drifted away from good oral health care.
The lifetime benefits of good oral health and dental care are well known. Tooth decay and cavities are known to cause a reduced quality of life due to the associated discomfort and poor aesthetics. Children with poor dental health do not do as well in school and often have a lower level of self-esteem, both of which lead to lower levels of success. Tooth decay and gum disease have been linked to cardiovascular disease and other health concerns.
You can give your child a head start by taking steps to prevent tooth decay. Preventing tooth decay starts early. Experts point to several causes of tooth decay in young children. According to the American Dental Association, you should avoid giving bottles at bedtime or nap time, especially those containing sugary drinks. The sugar and bacteria will sit on the child’s teeth while he or she is sleeping. Also, cleaning a child’s pacifier or spoon with your mouth can transfer bacteria from you to your child.
Wipe an infant’s gums with a soft cloth or brush very lightly with a soft child’s tooth brush to help remove food particles and to help the child become accustomed to regular brushing. Once the child’s teeth begin to come in, brush after meals with a soft toothbrush. Start your child on regular dental visits by age one and follow your dentist’s recommendations for good dental health. Experts recommend taking your child to a pediatric dentist instead of your regular dentist. Pediatric dentists have the skills and experience to address the dental needs of children.
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