Childhood tooth decay is more common than you think. According to Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC), “tooth decay (dental caries) affects children in the United States more than any other chronic infectious disease.”* When left untreated, tooth decay can cause pain and even infection which in turn can
Tooth decay though is preventable but forming good oral habits is important in doing so. Parents have an important role in forming their children’s oral habits. Caring for your child’s health should start even before giving birth. If you are trying to become pregnant, adjusting your diet and taking prenatal supplements can help you have healthy babies.
As soon as teeth emerge, a child’s mouth must be cleaned regularly and gently. Choosing baby formula, milk or juice is crucial too because some brands contain more sugar than others. Acid-producing bacteria that cause tooth decay consume sugar. So use sugar sparingly if you can’t avoid it totally.
If you let your baby go to bed with a bottle of milk, juice or formula, this promotes tooth decay too. This is called the “baby bottle” tooth decay. Because sugar stays in the baby’s mouth overnight it activates the production of acid that causes tooth decay. Use a bottle of plain water instead to avoid this from happening. It will also help if you can start training your kid to drink from a cup at six months of age. If you are using a pacifier, don’t dip it in sweet stuff like honey or sugar.
Tips for Parents and Caregivers
- If you have plans of getting pregnant, switch to a healthy diet that includes folic acid for your child’s proper development.
- Clean your baby’s mouth regularly especially when teeth start to emerge. At age two, start training your child to brush.
- Feed your child with nutritious snacks like fruits and vegetables instead of sugary stuffs like cake, ice cream and candies.
- Fluoride is important in oral health. Use fluoride toothpaste and fluorinated water.
- Visit the dentist regularly. In some instances, the dentist may use dental sealants to protect the teeth from decay.