Children are notorious for their love of sugary treats. Candy, juice, and soda are just a few of the things many kids consume on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, these habits are causing major dental health problems. Dentists are seeing an increasing number of very young children – many even younger than age 3 – who need invasive dental surgery due to decay. February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, so it’s the perfect time to cover how we can help children get a healthy smile – and keep it that way for life.
- Cut back on juice, soda, and sports drinks. Sugary drinks are one of the top offenders for tooth decay in children. The entire mouth gets bathed in sugar as they sip, and many kids drink these beverages throughout the day. It’s a hard habit to break, but it can be done in gradual steps. Replace one sugary drink a day with water or skim milk. Dilute juice with 50 percent water, and only select juices with no added sugar. Try adding fresh or frozen berries to make flavored water, or try cucumber slices or mint leaves.
- Keep bottles out of bed. If you have a toddler, he may get in the habit of falling asleep with a bottle – but this can lead to dental problems later. To gradually wean your toddler off the bedtime bottle, feed him before he falls asleep or use water instead of milk or juice in the nighttime bottle.
- Beware the chewy foods. This includes so-called healthy options like dried fruits, as well as the obvious gummy candies and even gummy vitamins. These foods stick to the teeth for long periods, leading to cavities. Whenever possible, have kids snack on fresh fruits like apples and strawberries, and look for xylitol-sweetened vitamins for kids. When they do have a sweet treat, choose something like a piece of chocolate, a scoop of frozen yogurt, or some fruit with a touch of whipped cream.
- Start brushing early. Toothbrushes are available for babies, toddlers, and older children. Infants’ teeth can be cleaned with a damp washcloth. Toddlers can start brushing with a toothbrush and water (with your help) once they have a few teeth. At age 3, kids should brush with fluoride toothpaste twice daily. Supervise your child’s brushing until at least age 7 to ensure they are cleaning all surfaces.
- Take your child to the dentist sooner rather than later. Your dentist can help you spot problems early to keep your kids’ teeth healthy. They may see areas that aren’t getting brushed thoroughly (a common problem with children) or may see weak spots that need extra attention to prevent a cavity. In addition, your child’s dentist can do fluoride treatments and other preventive care – possibly saving your child from fillings or invasive procedures later.
Your dentist at Red Rock Dental is your advocate for healthy teeth – starting with the youngest members of your family. Establishing good dental health in childhood leads to beautiful smiles that last a lifetime. Call and schedule a dental appointment for your children at Red Rock Dental in Farmington, NM. It could be one of the best things you do for their health!