By Vishant Nath DMD, Pediatric Dentist
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cavities are increasing in children between the ages of two and five years. Conversely, overall tooth decay has been gradually decreasing over the past several decades. So why the increase in this age group and what can be done to prevent it? Read on!
Once factor contributing to this rise is believed to be the extensive use of bottles and sippy cups. While these drinking devices are convenient for kids to carry around and work well to prevent spills, they can be detrimental to your child’s oral health. Though most parents will wean their child off of bottles, they will often allow the use of sippy cups for an extended period of time. Sippy cups should really only be used in the short transition from the bottle to a cup. If you are reluctant to transition out of a sippy cup, then offer your child only water in it. For all other beverages, use a regular cup.
You can start your child’s oral health care off right from the very beginning of their lives. Your child is not born with cavity-causing bacteria in his or her mouth. The bacteria can be transferred from the parents. If either parent has a history of tooth decay, they can have these bacteria present in their mouth. Studies have shown that this bacteria is more likely to be transferred from the mother than from the father. It’s important to keep this in mind. If you have a history of tooth decay, try to avoid such things as sharing a spoon with your infant, or allowing them to put their fingers into your mouth. The risk is especially high if you have had tooth decay as an adult. The level of bacteria is probably lower if your most recent tooth decay occurred before adulthood.
You can get your baby used to tooth brushing at an early age by wiping his or her gums after each feeding with a clean, damp washcloth. As soon as the first tooth appears, begin brushing twice a day with a very small amount of kids’ fluoride toothpaste. It was previously thought that fluoridated toothpaste should be avoided in children under age 2. However, since fluoride can reduce the risk of tooth decay by 30%, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry is now recommending the use of fluoride as soon as the first tooth appears. Be sure to check with your pediatric dentist to confirm what is best for your child’s oral health care.