Oral health must be a priority not just for adults but also for children. Your baby’s teeth need care and attention just like yours do. At a young age, kids are vulnerable to various dental problems, but you can avoid such issues if you know how to take care of your baby’s teeth.
From the food they eat to their milk-drinking habits, many factors can contribute to tooth decay in babies. Read on and we’ll share some tips on how you can be proactive in taking good care of your baby’s teeth:
1. Healthy Diet
By getting your kids to eat healthy, you are taking a big step in taking care of their teeth. They might be picky eaters, but do not give in to their whims. It’s tempting to give them whatever they demand, but if you want to discipline them while they are young, see to it that they are eating the right foods.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, sugar is the most common culprit for dental problems in little kids. The more frequent their exposure to sugar is, the higher the risk of having cavities. With this, cutting down on sweets must be one of your priorities.
Instead of giving children chocolates and candies, let them eat fruits and vegetables. However, try to avoid the fruits that are too acidic as they can erode the enamel. It is best to choose fruits and vegetables with high water content, including cucumbers, melons, and pears.
Milk, cheese, and yogurt are also recommended, as long as they are age-appropriate, so it depends on your child’s age, and also depends on any food intolerances. These dairy products contain high levels of calcium, which can be effective in strengthening their teeth. Try to avoid dairy products with lots of added sugar that will linger on a baby’s teeth. It’s especially wise to avoid any chewy foods that contain sugar, as these expose the baby’s teeth to sugar for longer.
2. Provide Fluoride with Caution
Fluoride is a natural mineral that slows and stops the formation of cavities. It rebuilds the enamel while also protecting the teeth from damages that are caused by sugar and bacteria. While fluoride is great, too much fluoride can be bad. Too much fluoride can result in cloudy white lines, chalky appearance, visible pits, and surface irregularities.
One of the best ways to ensure sufficient fluoride intake among babies is to drink fluoridated water. Depending on where you live, many communities have fluoridation programs, which are believed to be effective in reducing tooth decay by up to 25%, which is great for protecting the health of baby’s teeth.
Aside from water, you can also get fluoride in toothpaste. As soon as they have their first tooth, it is safe to provide them with fluoride toothpaste. However, it should not be bigger than the size of a rice grain. Swallowing a bit of fluoride toothpaste is not an immediate cause of concern.
Fluoride varnish is also recommended once the first tooth appears. It can be done up to four times a year, depending on the recommendations of the dentist. It is a topical treatment that can help stop new cavities from forming or stopping cavities that have already started.
3. Apply Dental Sealants
As soon as the baby’s first tooth erupts, you must start regular dental visits. This will be an opportunity to detect problems early while also implementing preventive measures against tooth decay. Among others, dentists can often recommend dental sealants.
In a nutshell, a dental sealant is a plastic resin that bonds to the grooves and depressions of the tooth. It starts in liquid form and hardens over time during the completion of the treatment. It protects the enamel from acids and plaques, acting as a barrier to minimize the chances of tooth decay. They are also long-lasting.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends applying dental sealants after the growth of the first molar, which often happens when a child is six years old. Nonetheless, it is safe even for babies upon the recommendations of a family or pediatric dentist. This is especially the case if the dentist rules that the tooth of a baby is cavity prone. While there is no age restriction, a lot of parents wait until their babies are older.
4. Watch Out for Teeth Grinding
For adults, grinding teeth can be a significant issue that can affect their oral health. The same thing holds true for children, but the effects are not as severe as they would be when they are older and still grinding.
First, understand why kids are grinding their teeth. It can be because of an underlying medical condition, which needs immediate attention. Certain medications can also be the culprit, especially those medications that are used for ADHD treatment. This habit could also run in the family, so you might have genetics to blame for teeth grinding.
Next, be proactive in looking for ways to stop teeth grinding. A dental consultation is your best bet. Mild bruxism is often not dangerous as babies can outgrow them through the years. However, if it is habitual and causes significant problems like misalignment or pain in the jaw, then it is best to seek professional help.
5. Visit the Dentist Regularly
This is perhaps the most important tip if you want to take care of your baby’s teeth, as well as the teeth of your older children, and your own teeth. Sure, you can read a lot about oral health online. You can also ask around friends and family. Books can also be great resources for oral health in children. Nonetheless, absolutely nothing beats professional opinion, so seeing the dentist regularly is a must for the whole family.
When it comes to babies, the general recommendation is to see a dentist when the first tooth appears. In most babies, this will happen at 6 months of age, but not later than 1 year of age. During the visit, the dentist will examine the baby’s teeth and provide recommendations for the best oral care routine. It can be an opportunity to spot dental problems early on and have the necessary intervention.
As mentioned above, the dentist can also provide various treatments that will protect teeth against cavities. A good example of such is fluoride varnish, which can be done as early as 6 months of age. The dentist can also recommend dental sealants in babies with cavity-prone teeth, but in most instances, this is recommended only when children reach 6 years old.