Your child’s oral health is connected to their overall physical health, so parents are encouraged to be mindful of their child’s oral hygiene even when raising infants. Unfortunately, many parents have been known to neglect or be unaware of what to avoid to prevent tooth decay in their children. As we enter the New Year, here are a few steps to take to protect your child’s oral health.
Avoid Sugary Snacks and Drinks
Lowering the amount of sugar your child consumes will not only benefit their teeth, it’ll also benefit their diet. Eating too much sugar can cause cavities in a toddler’s developing teeth. Sugar also increases the chance of tooth decay, which can further lead to pain and infections. Instead of cookies for snack time, switch over to healthy foods like baby carrots and other veggies. Replace juice with water. If you child does eat sugar, make sure to brush their teeth after mealtime.
Take Care of Their Teeth
Infants and toddlers will depend on their parents or guardians to clean their teeth. Care differs depending on your child’s age:
- Infants (Birth-12 months): gently wipe their gums with a baby washcloth. When their first teeth appear, use a soft bristle toothbrush and a rice grain-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste to brush their teeth.
- Toddlers (12-36 months): Brush your child’s teeth twice daily and use only a smear of toothpaste. Keep toothpaste in a high, safe place to avoid accidental overingestion.
Also, make sure your child is drinking fluoridated water. The fluoride in water helps strengthen teeth. Have children drink water via a regular cup and avoid bottled water if possible.
Go to the Dentist
Infants should visit the dentist before their first birthday to check the health of their developing gums and teeth. A dentist will be able to check and see if your child is getting enough fluoride in their water and, should they deem appropriate, apply fluoride varnish to help fight tooth decay caused by low fluoride levels. For toddlers, dentists can observe developing teeth, offer advice about soothing teething symptoms, and answer any questions you might have about your child’s new teeth.