Babies have twenty primary teeth at birth which are also known as baby teeth. Primary teeth start erupting at about 6 months of age and generally appear by age 3. It’s important to take your child to the dentist by age one so the dentist can examine your child for decay risk and educate you on the latest in preventative care. Following are 5 tips for avoiding cavities:
- Brush two times daily. Kids over the age of 3 should brush their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Kids under the age of 3 should use non-fluoridated infant toothpaste until they are old enough to spit out toothpaste containing fluoride. Encourage and motivate your child to brush their teeth by making it fun. Let them select a toothbrush with a favorite color or character on it. Some children do a more effective job of cleaning teeth with the aid of an electric toothbrush. The novelty of an electric toothbrush may motivate your child to brush more frequently. Create a brushing routine by having your child brush first, followed with a turn by you. Use a gentle circular motion as you move the toothbrush around one or two teeth at a time. Change their toothbrush every three months because old bristles don’t clean well under the gum line and host more plaque and disease causing bacteria.
- Floss daily. Begin flossing when your child is around 2 to 3 years old. Children generally need assistance with flossing until they are 8 to 10 years old. Flossing helps remove debris on teeth and gums in-between teeth, polishes tooth surfaces and controls bad breath. Flossing is most effective when done at least once a day for 2 to 3 minutes each time.
- Schedule regular dental checkups. Experts recommend that children begin a routine of regular dental checkups beginning at 12 months of age. Their teeth should be examined twice a year for signs of tooth decay, gum disease and other health problems.
- Eat nutritious foods. What your child eats, and how often they eat, has a dramatic impact on their oral and overall health. Consuming foods high in sugar or starch feed the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Promote healthy eating habits in childhood and teen years to promote optimal health, growth and intellectual development into adulthood.
- Put sealants on teeth. Dental sealants are thin, plastic films painted on chewing surfaces of the back teeth that serve as a host to food debris and plaque build-up. They are highly effective in the prevention of tooth decay. In fact, research has shown that sealants actually stop cavities when placed on top of a slightly decayed tooth because it seals off the supply of nutrients to the bacteria that causes the cavity. Sealants are especially beneficial for children because their newly erupted, permanent teeth are most susceptible to cavities, however patients of all ages can benefit from dental sealants.