Second only to the common cold, tooth decay is one of the most prevalent conditions in this country. Starting your children on the path to lifelong oral health means teaching them the importance of taking good care of their teeth. The following tips can help you protect the health and beauty of your child’s smile:
• Schedule a first dental visit. Many dentist recommend bringing your child in on or around the first birthday, and definitely by age three. Primary, or baby, teeth allow your child to speak clearly and chew naturally. As well, baby teeth serve as placeholders for permanent teeth, so you need to take your child to the dentist for regular checkups.
• Give up the bottle. Young children can develop early tooth decay, also called baby bottle mouth, when parents let them go to sleep with milk or juice bottles. The best plan is to wean your child of the bottle by age one, but if that isn’t possible, make sure you only fill the bottle with water before bedtime.
• Use a fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride helps young children develop strong teeth, so it’s important to start brushing with a small amount of fluoride toothpaste once most of the baby teeth have erupted.
• Encourage healthy eating. A balanced diet promotes overall health, including your teeth and gums. Limit intake of carbohydrates, sugary treats, and acidic foods, which can weaken enamel and increase the chances for cavities. Instead, offer snacks like crunchy vegetables, cheese, and yogurt, which are good for your teeth.