Did you know that your toddler could already have tooth decay? Did you know that this could affect their dental health for the rest of their life? Did you also know that you can prevent tooth decay in your children by adhering to a few simple guidelines?
Below are 5 tips that will support the health of your child’s teeth and gums and create life-long habits that keep your child’s smile cavity free for years and years to come!
Tip #1: SET MEAL AND SNACK TIMES
Our dental health is affected very differently when teeth are exposed to sugar for a short time versus a long time. This is true for any sugar containing food…even if it is also high in nutrients. For example, a bowl of berries at one sitting is very different than a bowl of berries consumed over the course of 2 hours. It offers the child the same amount of sugar and nutrients, but causes the teeth to have a much longer exposure which may result in an increased risk of cavities.
Tip# 2: HYDRATE WISELY
It is important to keep children hydrated. The two best options for this are milk and water. Ideally a child will consume 16 oz. of milk per day and the remainder of their liquid is from water. Juice (even diluted juice) offers unnecessary exposure to sugar. If your child has become accustomed to juice, you could try fruit infused water. To make this you can add fresh orange wedges, pineapple chunks, cucumber slices, and/or fresh or frozen berries to a jug of water in your fridge. This offers flavor to water without adding the sugar that is in juices.
Tip #3: MILK FOR MEALS, WATER FOR PLAY
Milk is an important component to a child’s diet; however, it contains sugar. Therefore, as we discussed in the first tip, there should be a time limit for consumption. Milk at meal times is ideal as there is a start and end time. Water can be offered to quench thirst in between meals. Along these same lines, there is a high risk of dental caries early on if a child is allowed to go to bed with a bottle of formula, milk, or juice. It is highly advised to avoid this for the health of your child’s teeth and gums.
Tip #4: SERVE CRUNCHY WITH CHEWY
Sticky foods such as raisins can easily get caught in the crevices between teeth. When serving dried fruits and other sticky foods, offer something crunchy such as a whole grain cracker as well as water to help remove any build up. Then, at the end of the day be sure to clean their teeth well….which takes us to my fifth and final tip for healthy teeth and gums for your little one.
Tip #5: FLOSS AND BRUSH TWICE A DAY TO KEEP THOSE CAVITIES AWAY
Oral care can begin by cleaning gums throughout the day before an infant’s teeth come in. As teeth begin to pop through the gum line, it becomes incredibly important to care for them with regular flossing and brushing. Ideally wait about 20 minutes after a meal or snack to begin tooth care. If we brush too soon after a meal we can wear the enamel on our teeth away due to the more acidic environment after eating. You can start your child’s oral care routine by flossing. Even if there is plenty of space between teeth, this step is important as it starts a routine that will hopefully last a lifetime. The next step is brushing. Using a sonic toothbrush such as the Brilliant! Kids Sonic allows the toothbrush to do the work for you! The sonic head cleans teeth without undue pressure or wearing on gums and the small vibration every 30 seconds ensures that each quadrant of the mouth gets adequate time and attention.