Dental health, cavities in children are important to stay on top

The most common chronic childhood illness lurks under the radar of many parents: Dental cavities.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than half of children ages 6 to 8 have had a cavity in at least one baby tooth, and an equal share of children ages 12 to 19 have had a cavity in one tooth. permanent tooth. and Prevention. Children from low-income families are twice as likely to develop cavities as children from high-income households.

Here’s what you need to know about oral care for children:

From their first birthday. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants have their first dental checkup six months after their first tooth appears. Teeth usually begin to appear around six months, but some babies (especially girls) may have teeth earlier. After the first visit, children should have routine dental cleanings every six months, just like adults.

Untreated cavities become painful and can affect your child’s long-term health. Cavities are bacterial infections, which means that as they grow, they can spread to other teeth, said Jason Bresler, who has a doctorate in dental medicine and is part of the pediatric practice of the Philadelphia area Doc Bresler’s Cavity Busters.

Children lose their baby teeth over several years – usually between the ages of 6 and 13 – which means that a cavity in a baby tooth can spread to a neighboring adult tooth.

Large cavities can become infected or form abscesses, which can lead to facial swelling and hospitalization in severe cases, if the infection spreads enough that it needs to be treated with IV medications.

A tooth that becomes infected from untreated decay will need to be removed, which can affect how a child eats and talks, and how their adult teeth fit. Regular dental visits can prevent problem spots from turning into major dental problems.

Limit sugary foods, floss and brush your teeth before bed.

Sweets and sugary snacks significantly increase the risk of cavities. And juice is full of sugar, so don’t give your child more than 4 ounces a day.

Tooth decay sugar is also found in many other foods that you wouldn’t expect. Any carbohydrate-rich food can increase your risk of cavities. Breads, pastas, chips, pretzels, juices and sodas are all cavities culprits. Carbohydrates act as a fuel source for bacteria in your mouth to create acid that eats away at your teeth, causing cavities.

Opt for fresh snacks, like fruits and vegetables, or foods high in protein, like string cheese or yogurt, rather than processed foods, which tend to be high in carbohydrates and sugar.

Start young, be consistent and brush for young kids, said Bresler. Start brushing your child’s teeth as a baby to help them get used to the activity and understand that it isn’t painful.

An evening brushing routine can be difficult at first with toddlers and school-aged children who aren’t used to brushing their teeth, but they will eventually adjust, Bresler said. Rewards, sticker charts and toothbrushes with fun designs can help them brush their teeth.

Don’t let your child brush their teeth until they have demonstrated the dexterity to do so and understands the responsibility of daily brushing.

A soft-bristled toothbrush is the best. “No person, pet, or living creature should use more than a soft-bristled toothbrush,” Bresler said. “The only thing a stiff-bristled brush is good for is cleaning grout off your bathroom tiles.”

Electric toothbrushes can be useful for kids as they can help clean hard to reach places and most have timers to let kids know when they’ve brushed long enough. But if your child is afraid of noise and vibration, stick to a traditional toothbrush.

Yes. All current guidelines for pediatric dental care recommend the use of fluoridated toothpaste in the appropriate amount. Children too young to spit will swallow the toothpaste you use, so just apply a smear – less than the size of a grain of rice – to their brush.

Some parents worry about fluoridated toothpaste because too much fluoride can be toxic. But commercially available toothpastes are formulated so that “even if you ate an entire tube of toothpaste, it would be poisonous, but not deadly,” Bresler said.

To be clear, don’t eat an entire tube of toothpaste.

But if you’re worried about how much toothpaste your child swallows, Bresler recommends providing a tall glass of milk, which will bind fluoride so it can be excreted instead of absorbed.