Caries is a common bacterial disease caused by plaque-induced acid demineralization of the tooth. There are risk factors and protective factors, and keeping them in balance is what prevents cavities in your children's teeth. Here are some age-appropriate tips from the Doctors:
- If your infant falls asleep while feeding, wipe their teeth before laying them in bed.
- Start brushing your child's teeth twice a day when they start to erupt.
- Infants should not be put to bed with a bottle.
- Ad libitum breast-feeding should be avoided after the first teeth erupt.
- Encourage your child to drink from a cup as they approach their 1st birthday.
- Schedule your child for a Well Baby Dental Visit by their 1st birthday.
- Use a smear (grain of rice size) amount of fluoride tooth paste twice daily as soon as the your child's teeth come in.
- Parents should continue to assist their children with tooth brushing.
- Parents should dispense a "pea-sized" amount of fluoride toothpaste after age 2.
- Wean your baby from the bottle by 12-14 months of age.
- Floss your child's teeth once a day, as instructed by the docotrs.
- Avoid letting your child use a sippy cup to drink juice, milk, soda, or other beverages that contain fermentable carbohydrates, especially between meals.
- Help your child develop healthy snacking habits by offering foods that are nutritious.
- Avoid allowing your child "nibble" throughout the day.
* Remember: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children ages 1-6 should drink no more than 4-6 ounces of juice a day from a cup as part of a meal or snack.
School Aged Children
- Parents should assure that their child brushes twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Look for plaque along the gum line of the front teeth to verify effectiveness of brushing.
- Parents should continue to supervise and assist as needed with daily brushing and flossing.
- Occasional sweets and treats are best consumed after a healthy meal.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics promotes water, not sports or energy drinks, as the principal source of hydration for children and adolescents.
- Active children burn lots of calories and usually eat 3 meals and 2-3 snacks a day. Help them make healthy choices and avoid "empty" calories. Discourage children from "sipping and grazing" because frequency of exposure to sugars and fermentable carbohydrates increases the risk of caries.
- Remind your teen to brush thoroughly at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
- If your teen frequently "forgets to brush" or is "too tired", help them pick a time of day that can work better for them, like after school or after dinner.
- Remind your child to floss daily.
- Make healthy snacks available and discourage frequent "sipping and nibbling".
- Discourage your teen from drinking soda, sports drinks, and other acidic, sugary beverages.
- Remember that diet sodas are acidic and may increase the risk of enamel erosion.
- Energy drinks are popular with teens, but contain sugar and caffeine or other stimulants. Some contain more than 500mg of caffeine which is like drinking 14 cans of cola!