More Than 40% of Children Have Tooth Decay by Kindergarten
After nine months of pregnancy, the much-anticipated day has finally come for your baby to be born. Once you bring the baby home, you may wonder, “now what?” How do I care for this little addition to our family. There are resources for new parent to access regarding the care for their newborn, but one issue that is often overlooked is dental care for their child.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and other children’s organizations, “tooth decay is the most common chronic children’s disease in the country.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that “dental caries (tooth decay) is five times more common than asthma and seven times more common the hay fever in children. More than 40 percent of children have tooth decay by the time they reach kindergarten. Children with dental caries in their baby teeth are at much greater risk for cavities in their adult teeth.” It is very important for parents to understand that tooth decay in children is for the most part preventable.
When Should My Child’s Dental Care Begin?
A child’s dental care needs vary according to his stage of development. What parents need to know is that it is never too early to begin good oral care for their child. Even a nursing infant needs to have his mouth and gums carefully wiped with a warm washcloth after feeding. This will prevent the buildup of the sticky plaque that causes tooth decay.
The first baby tooth, (or primary or deciduous tooth) will appear between 4-6 months of age.It is recommended that your child’s first visit to the dentist should be within six months of the appearance of this first tooth, or just before his first birthday. There are several ways that a parent can prepare their child for his first visit to the dentist:
- Be a good role model
- Educated your child with role play
- Read you child books about visiting the dentist
- Start early
- Look for the “child-friendly” dental office
For a detailed discussions of these methods, see our article entitled, “Overcoming a Child’s Fear of the Dentist.” (http://kidzaam.wixsite.com/kidzaam/single-post/2016/07/16/Overcoming-A-Childs-Fear-of-the-Kids-Dentist)
What Can a Parent Do to Promote Good Dental Health for Their Children?
- Check and clean your child’s teeth often
- Choose foods for your baby that are healthy and low in sugar.
- Start cleaning/brushing your child’s teeth as soon as the teeth are visible.
- Make sure that your child sees his dentist on a regular basis.
- Help to prevent tooth decay by not putting your baby to bed with a bottle. Baby Bottle Tooth Decay is a common problem caused by allowing the baby to suck on a bottle while sleeping. This practice exposes the baby’s teeth to sugary liquids such as milk (as well as breast milk), fruit juices and formula.
A Child’s Dental Care Timeline:
- Infancy: Gentle cleaning with warm washcloth after feeding.
- Teething: Occurs between 3 and 9 months. May cause child to be irritable and fussy, restless and cause drooling or loss of appetite. Clean baby teeth with water and a soft brush.
- First Dentist Visit: By child’s first birthday
- Brushing and Flossing: Begin using toothpaste at age 2. Child should be able to brush and floss teeth effectively by age 8.
- Losing Baby Teeth: Child should start to lose their primary teeth at around 6 or 7 years. To reduce pain and bleeding, allow your child to wiggle their tooth until it comes out on its own.
- Childhood to Adolesence: Older children should be taught to brush their teeth at least twice a day. Promote good nutrition and limit the amount of sugary treats. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that your child should see a pediatric dentist every six months.
Pediatric Dentists in Arizona
With offices in Prescott, Prescott Valley, Cottonwood and Phoenix, the pediatric dentists of KidZaam specialize in your kid's dental health and wellness. For more information, go to www.KidZaam.com