Good oral hygiene doesn’t start and end with a trip to the dentist; it starts at home. Here are some startling facts about children and oral health:
- By their first birthday, 8% of toddlers have at least one cavity.
- The statistics go up as they grow: 24% of 2-4 year-olds, 53% of 6-8 year-olds, and 56% of 15 year-olds have cavities or tooth decay.
This is problematic because oral health is so closely linked to overall health. Dental disease is very commonly linked to diabetes, respiratory infections, and heart disease, and children are not immune to any of them.
The good news is that damage to the teeth can be prevented or reversed. Because infants and children see their pediatrician more often than their dentist, pediatricians are starting to up the ante on their oral health knowledge. This includes counseling for parents and even applying fluoride treatments at well-child checks.
Consider these things when it comes to your child’s oral health:
- The Power of a Kiss. Most parents agree that it’s impossible to not kiss their kids. Their soft, chubby cheeks and sweet little lips are irresistible. However, did you know that adults can pass cavity-causing bacteria to babies? This can come from kissing, sharing food, cleaning a pacifier with your mouth, or drinking out of the same straw. Even a small amount of saliva can act as a conduit for bacteria, so make sure you’re taking good care of your teeth before you pass any saliva on to your kids.
- Early Mouth Health is Important: the first 3 years of your child’s life are imperative to your child’s overall oral health. Not only is this when all of their baby teeth come in, but it also sets the stage for when their adult teeth come in.
- Use Fluoridated Toothpaste After the First Tooth Pops Through. This is a new recommendation from both pediatricians and pediatric dentists. The training toothpaste is really no better than using water and is only to do just that—train them on tooth brushing. For children who can’t yet spit the toothpaste out, use a rice-sized smear of toothpaste on their brush, and brush twice daily. And, perhaps most importantly, don’t rinse with water after brushing. It rinses off any residual fluoride, which can be beneficial in fighting cavities and tooth decay.
- Take Your Children to the Dentist Every Six Months—Starting at Age 2. Taking your children to the dentist is just as important as taking yourself to the dentist. It helps teach them about good oral hygiene, gets their teeth squeaky clean, and will catch any cavities before they become a major problem.
Call Dr. Real today to make an appointment for you or your child. Remember—oral health directly affects overall health. Healthy teeth = healthy (and happy!) body.