Forty percent of children in the United States enter kindergarten with a history of the dental disease. In fact, dental caries, also known as tooth decay, often begins to develop during infancy.
According to research, infants acquire Strep Mutans, the primary cause of dental caries in humans, from their mothers during the “window of infectivity” estimated around 19 to 31 months of age. Therefore, infants are called to receive early intervention before the established “window of infectivity.” Parents must also receive appropriate recommendations concerning oral health care for their babies.
Here are some valuable tips on how to prevent cavities on children’s teeth.
#1 Stick to Recommended Juice Intakes
As parents, make sure your child does not go over the suggested amount of juice he or she can take every day. Because juice contains sugar, it is best to limit the quantity using the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
According to the professional association of pediatricians in the United States, here are the advised amount of juice intake of children depending on their age:
- Zero to age one year old: No juice, instead, switch to sources of whole fruits
- Two years old to six years old: Maximum of four to six ounces of juice per day or equal to one small juice box
- Seven years old to 18 years old: Maximum of eight to 12 ounces of juice per day
Aside from keeping up with the recommended quantity of juice, pediatricians also advise giving the beverage with food during meal times. Evidence shows that food helps prevent the pH level in reaching its critical level of 5.5 which contributes to the demineralization of the teeth.
Doctors also suggest avoiding giving infants juice from bottles or easily transportable cups to prevent them from easily consuming the juice during the day. However, before bed, children must only drink water to bed with them.
#2 No Soda
While juice can be taken in limited quantities, soda is a big no-no to children. According to the Wisconsin Dental Association, regular consumption of soft drinks is considered one of the top causes of tooth decay. Soda contains sugar which combines with the mouth bacteria and form acid.
In turn, the acid attacks and damages the teeth. When such happens, the tooth enamel, the outermost and protective layer of the tooth, weakens and causes increased susceptibility of the teeth to decay.
#3 Limit Sticky and Sugary Foods
An occasional sweet treat for your kids is okay, but best to be avoided. Sticky and sugary foods like raisins, fruit roll-ups, gummy vitamins, and granola bars can stick to the teeth and cause the proliferation of bacteria. Like in soda, the sugar found in these treats serves as food for bacteria which release acid that harms the teeth.
#4 Snack Healthy
Instead of juice, get your child a glass of water to wash off his or her food. In terms of food, prepare healthy and delicious snacks such as apple, carrots, yogurt, nuts, and leafy vegetables. You can also blend fruits and vegetables for that refreshing smoothie.
#5 Break the Habit of Pacifier Use
Using a pacifier until the age of one works fine as it serves as a protective factor against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. However, beyond that age, prolonged pacifier use can cause bite problems and jaw misalignment. It can also narrow the mouth roof.
#6 Practice Proper Oral Care As Early As Possible
Even though your child’s first tooth has yet to emerge, form the habit of cleaning his or her gums by wiping the area with a clean and damp gauze or washcloth. When his or her teeth begin to come out, use a soft toothbrush with polished nylon to brush them.
At age two, your child can use a fluoridated toothpaste with fluoride less than 1,000 parts per million. Limit the toothpaste use to a small dab. Then, gently brush the teeth to clear away leftover food particles and ensure the cleanliness of your child’s teeth.
#7 Visit the Dentist No Later Than 12 Months of Age
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends children undergo their first oral examination no later than 12 months of age. Traditionally, the advised time for the first dental visit was at three years of age. However, by that time, poor oral hygiene and improper feeding habits have already compromised oral health.