Tips to Prevent Childhood Cavities from Infancy
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, cavities are five times more common than asthma in the nation's children, and cavities are considered a chronic disease. As a parent, helping to prevent cavities in your child's teeth must be a proactive effort. This effort should start even before those first little baby teeth make an appearance. Here are a few tips to give your baby a good start with dental care to avoid problems with cavities later on.
Care for the Infant's Gums Before Their Teeth Appear
Just because there are no teeth present in a baby's mouth, it does not mean their mouth doesn't need to be cleaned. Use a clean washcloth to gently wipe the gums, tongue, and cheeks at least once a day, especially after feedings and before bed. If you notice anything abnormal about your infant's mouth, make sure you talk to your pediatrician.
Caregivers Should Practice Good Oral Hygiene & Avoid Utensil Sharing
Cavity-causing bacteria is actually possible to be passed to an infant from a caregiver. Therefore, it is important for the caregiver of an infant to practice good oral health habits, such as brushing and flossing. It is also important to be mindful of this fact when sharing utensils, such as during feeding times as the infant gets older or when sharing drinks. If your child uses a pacifier, don't put the pacifier in your own mouth or clean it with your saliva.
Keep Only Formula, Water or Breast Milk in Bottles
Putting anything sugary in a baby's bottle can encourage the development of dental caries as the child does grow teeth. Beverages with a lot of sugar, such as soda or even juice, can cause the enamel to break down on the teeth. Likewise, it is important to never put an infant to bed with a bottle because they often fall asleep with the liquid sitting in their mouth. Work to wean the baby from the bottle by their first birthday. Drinking from a cup is much less likely to cause decay.
Tend to the First Teeth Carefully
When your infant does grow teeth, it is crucial that you take care of those teeth by cleaning them twice a day with an infant toothbrush. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a small smear of toothpaste is perfectly effective at this stage. As your infant grows into a toddler age two to five, a pea-size amount of toothpaste will suffice. It is recommended that a child see a dentist for their first dental checkup within six months of the time those first teeth show up or by their first birthday.
The more attentive you are to your child's teeth right from the beginning, the less likely it will be that they do develop cavities that could affect their smile for the long term. Reach out to the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic for more information about preventing childhood cavities.