7 mistakes to avoid – children oral health
42 percent of children ages 2-11 have had cavities in their baby teeth while 21 percent of children ages 6-11 have already had them in their permanent teeth (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). What are the common mistakes and how can you avoid them to keep your child’s teeth healthy?
1. Letting kids brush alone:Since most children don’t have the motor skills to brush effectively until they’re 8 years old, parents need to supervise brushing and check to make sure every surface of each tooth is clean. 2. Putting baby to bed with a bottle:It’s the easiest way to cause tooth decay, yet parents are still doing it, experts say. In fact, according to a survey by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, 85 percent of parents said it wasn’t a good idea to put their babies to bed with a bottle of milk or juice, yet 20 percent did it anyway. Whether it’s a bottle at bedtime or a sippy cup all day long, the habit keeps the sugar and bacteria levels in the mouth elevated all the time. 3. Making the first dentist appointment too late:Expert say it’s common to see children 2 or 3 years-old who need to go under general anesthesia to treat cavities and infections. One of the explanations for this is that parents aren’t bringing their babies to the dentist early enough. The first trip should either be when the first tooth erupts or by your baby’s first birthday. Dental visits every six months from the get-go will also help your child feel comfortable—and even excited—to go every time. 4. Offering “healthy” foods:Bananas, raisins, and whole-grain crackers seem like healthy fare but foods that are sticky and have concentrated sugars like these will sit in the grooves of the teeth and create cavities. Instead of nixing them entirely, eat them with meals— when there’s more saliva— and always brush afterwards. 5. Thinking cavities are no big deal:You might think treating a cavity is an easy fix, but cavities can affect your child throughout his lifetime. For starters, healthy baby teeth are necessary to maintain space for adult teeth. They help guide the jaw so it can grow. Plus, if a cavity becomes infected, it can affect the development of the adult teeth or cause an abscess. Cavities at an early age, especially if they’re not treated, can also lead to problems with speech articulation, poor sleep, and even low self-esteem and school performance.6. Not using fluoride:Last year, the American Dental Association revised its recommendations and now suggests children age 2 and under use fluoride toothpaste, too. Although fluoride is controversial, experts agree that the research is clear: it’s one of the best ways to prevent cavities.The appropriate dose, however, is key. For children 3 years old and younger, use the equivalent of a grain of rice, and for children 3 to 6 years old, a pea-sized amount is enough. Nevertheless, if you’re concerned about your child’s exposure to fluoride in the water and toothpaste, talk to your dentist.7. Loading up on sports drinks:A common cause of tooth decay in older kids is sipping on sports drinks and soda at lunch, at games and at home. By bathing their teeth in acid all day, there’s no opportunity for the PH to re-balance. Encourage limiting the amount, drink it and be done with it (brush or rinse after), or drink water!
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