The rise of tooth decay in very young children has been traveling up a steep incline during the last decade. Increased sugar in the modern diet combined with lax brushing habits is creating a perfect storm of conditions that promote the formation of cavities. This is why your children’s dentist in Clarksville is celebrating National Children’s Dental Health Month. At Arkansas River Valley Dentistry, we want you to feel empowered as you learn about how to take charge of your child’s oral health and begin implementing good habits as early as possible. Teaching your child how to take care of their teeth is the best way to establish routines that will allow them to maintain good oral health for their entire lives.
What is National Children’s Dental Health Month?
The American Dental Association sponsors and brings together dental professionals and health care providers to help spread awareness of proper oral care to parents and children, teachers, caregivers, and many others. The 2017 program is focusing on the importance of fluoride in preventing tooth decay. Their slogan, “Choose tap water for a sparkling smile,” is a reminder that drinking tap water with fluoride is a safe and effective way for children and adults to help protect against cavities.
What Can Parents Do?
While some children seem more prone to cavities than others, it is important to begin oral health care as early as possible. Establishing a positive attitude and regular oral routines from a very young age will encourage your children to maintain these habits on their own. The following is a guideline for proper oral health maintenance:
- Checkups: If your child has already received their first tooth, it is not too early to take them to see the dentist. Your dentist can check for bacteria buildup around the tooth and gum line and even measure bacteria levels.
- Brushing: Even if your child only has one tooth, it is still important to brush it every day and rinse their mouth out as well. If you choose to use toothpaste, pick a non-fluoride one at this point.
- Preschoolers: Make it a point to brush your own teeth at the same time as they do, and give them plenty of positive feedback. Electric toothbrushes are just as effective as manually brushing, so if it makes it more fun for them, then go for it.
- Toddlers: Begin using fluoride toothpaste between the ages of 2-3 years old. Brush their teeth for about a minute. You can lay their head in your lap and brush them at a 45-degree angle. As soon as two teeth touch, begin using dental floss as part of the routine.
- School-Age Kids: At around the age of 7, children can begin to brush and floss on their own. Check around their gum line for food and plaque to be sure they are doing a sufficient job. Gum that contains Xylitol can also be given to promote saliva, which protects the teeth from cavities.
- Tame the sweet tooth: Limiting the amount of sugar your children eat is still the best prevention for tooth decay. If you decrease the sugar that bacteria feeds on, there is less chance of the acid producing effects that wear at the enamel and cause cavities.
- Fluoride: If your community water supply is not fluoridated, then your dentist may provide fluoride treatments in their office.
Establishing proper oral care in young children is essential not only for their health, but in teaching them life long habits that will lead to increased oral health and a future smile that continues to dazzle. If you have concerns about your child’s oral health, your dentist in Clarksville is happy to answer any questions and help set up a health care plan that meets all of your family’s needs.