Compared to just a few years back, U.S. kids have fewer cavities or “dental caries” today.” Nevertheless, dental caries is still the top chronic disease among 6-19 year-olds.
Watch Video: U.S. Kids Getting Fewer Cavities Today
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2015-2016 kids far fewer cavities than kids had four years earlier. The CDC researchers found a decline in total caries prevalence from 50.0% in 2011–2012 to 43.1% in 2015–2016.
In addition, the prevalence of untreated caries is trending downward. For untreated caries, the CDC found that although the prevalence increased from 16.1% in 2011–2012 to 18.0% in 2013–2014, it then decreased to 13.0% in 2015–2016.
The prevalence of caries, both treated and untreated, was lowest among kids 2–5 years of age.
The CDC monitors the prevalence of treated and untreated caries as part of their work to help prevent and control oral diseases. The organization published these findings in April. The data is part of a continuing study of Americans’ health and nutrition habits.
Income disparities, however, persist
Income disparities persist.
In spite of these improvements, oral health disparities continue to exist.
The researchers found the highest prevalence of cavities, 52 percent, was among Hispanic youth. Non-Hispanic black youth had the highest prevalence of untreated dental caries: about 17 percent. By comparison, fewer than 12 percent of white kids and 10.5 percent of Asian kids had untreated caries.
In addition, lower-income kids had much higher cavity rates than wealthier ones. In fact, as family income levels increased, the prevalence of dental caries decreased. Researchers found the lowest prevalence of dental caries, whether treated or untreated, was in children from families that had incomes in excess of 300% of the federal poverty level.
What’s behind these changes?
Why has the prevalence of caries declined? According to the report’s author, it is not possible to tell whether changes in habits or better access to dental care could explain the decline.
Reporting on the CDC’s findings, WebMD interviewed Dr. Rosie Roldan at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami. Dr. Roldan, who directs pediatric dentistry, was not involved in the study.
“It’s encouraging to see this decline happening,” said Dr. Roldan, who pointed out that “the youngest children in the study — those ages 2 to 5 — had the lowest rates of cavities and untreated cavities.” She suggested this could “be related to a push in recent years to get young children to the dentist,” WebMD reported.
Read next: Why Generation Z Might Go On to Have the Healthiest Teeth to Date
Fleming E, Afful J. Prevalence of total and untreated dental caries among youth: United States, 2015–2016. NCHS Data Brief, no 307. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2018.
Drinking water plays a key role in preserving your teeth.
Most people want an attractive smile. It is usually the first thing that someone notices. Following a solid dental care routine that is filled with brushing and flossing is important. However, drinking water plays a key role in preserving your teeth, and it brings many oral health benefits.
Keep Stains Away
Certain foods and beverages, including coffee, wine, and berries, cause discoloration of your tooth enamel. Staining can dampen your smile and cause your pearly whites to look dingy.
Regular hydration helps dilute the items so that they do not cause a negative reaction in your mouth. When you consume anything that leads to staining, it is advised to drink and rinse with water so that your mouth is properly flushed.
When you eat a candy bar or a similar sweet treat, follow it with a glass of water.
Water is a helpful tool that keeps sugars and acids from harming your mouth. When you eat sugary foods, they turn into acids that eat at your enamel and cause cavities.
For example, when you eat a candy bar or a similar sweet treat, follow it with a glass of water. This is not a replacement for brushing your teeth, but it is a good way to eliminate acids that can have a devastating effect on your oral health.
Freshen Your Breath
Nothing is worse than the embarrassment of bad breath. When you are kissing your sweetheart or are in the middle of a meeting with an important client, the last thing you want to do is to worry about your breath.
When your mouth is dry, anaerobic bacteria is produced. This is common when you first wake up. If you frequently drink water throughout the day, your mouth stays moist, and the environment where bacteria thrives is eliminated. Also, this helps to get rid of leftover food that becomes trapped in the crevices of your mouth. This means that there is nothing for bacteria to feed upon.
Celebrate National Drink Water Week
Our bodies need to stay hydrated.
May 7, 2017 kicks off “Drinking Water Week.” Most people know how the body needs to stay hydrated, but few comprehend the positive effects that it brings to your oral health.
After learning how water benefits you mouth, you will want to incorporate it into your daily activities. It is an easy way to keep your smile looking as beautiful as possible.
Read Next: Oral Health and Pot Use Concerns
You’ve probably already heard that you should go to the dentist regularly to maintain good oral health. A reliable rule of thumb is to go twice per year. However, you may not have been told about the full benefits of regular cleanings and checkups. To help you understand the importance of taking the time to schedule an appointment, here are some of the biggest reasons why doing so is a good idea.
Improving Your Confidence
Have you ever had bad breath? Of course you have! Everyone gets it. But if you don’t see your dental health professional and get your mouth cleaned occasionally, it could get much worse. Dentists can also help you keep your teeth bright and white. Many everyday products we consume, such as coffee or tea, can leave stains on them. At the dentist’s office you can get them whitened and polished, eliminating those unsightly stains and giving you a more attractive and confident-looking smile.
Preventing Gum Disease
Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in American adults, and most adults will face gum disease at some point in their lives. One of your biggest oral health goals, therefore, should be taking efforts to prevent and minimize this problem. Regular checkups will help you do that. Your
dentist has special tools that check to see if your gums are still healthy. If there’s a problem, he or she will tell you how best to fix it before it costs you your smile.
Over time, tiny food particles in your mouth convert to plaque, an acidic substance that clings to and slowly eats away your teeth. Regular flossing and brushing can help slow this process, but they can’t prevent it entirely. Over time, these cavities get worse and worse until they begin to cause you tremendous pain. A tooth isn’t like skin; it won’t regenerate to repair itself. Therefore, if you let the cavity get bad enough, you’ll lose it.
Fortunately, oral health professionals always check for cavities in their earliest stages. They use x-rays and other medical equipment to find them before they start to hurt you or cause irreplaceable damage. When cavities are in their early stages, repairing them is no problem. You’ll also get a good cleaning at every checkup, which prevents the buildup of plaque and lowers the likelihood that you’ll get cavities in the future.
Preventing Oral Cancer and Other Life-Threatening Conditions
Oral cancer is a deadly serious problem. Experts estimate that nearly 50,000 Americans will be diagnosed with it every year, and nearly 10,000 will die from it. Almost half of those diagnosed with oral cancer will die within five years of their diagnosis.
The Oral Cancer Foundation notes that this high mortality rate is mainly caused by the fact that oral cancer is usually detected at a very late stage. It can be hard to detect early because the symptoms are relatively mild at first.
Fortunately, dentists know how to recognize the signs of cancer early and will be able to detect it during a routine check-up. But that’s not all. Getting your mouth checked by a doctor has other major health benefits.
Dental check-ups have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes, as well. Seeing your oral health-care professional regularly, therefore, could do more than save your teeth. It could also save your life.
If you are like many people, a visit to the dentist is one of the most painful and stressful appointments that you endure. And you have to go twice a year. Some avoid the dentist because they are nervous about the possibility of a cavity or because they fear the drill. Whatever the reason, too many people skip their important dental visits out of anxiety.
However, ignoring these appointments can damage more than just your oral health. Poor dental care can lead to infections, strokes and heart disease. You can avoid a painful dental visit and smile more. Here are a few suggestions we hope will help:
1. Find a dental team you can trust.
Trusting your dental team will go a long way toward easing your fears and your pain. Anxieties are related to many types of fears. Therefore, find a professional who is able to read your cues, answer your questions and calm your concerns. If you trust the person doing the work, you will be better able to get through the appointment.
2. Prepare a list of questions to ease your concerns.
Once you find a professional you trust, prepare a list of questions to help you feel more at ease. Think deeply about your fears and concerns about your visit. Then, ask for clarification on any procedures.
A few common questions that might lessen your anxiety include:
• Can you explain what you are doing with my teeth?
• What does that (tool) do?
• How could I improve my oral hygiene?
• Why is it necessary to do ____ (procedure)?
• What are my options for that tooth?
• If I get nervous, what signal can I give you to stop?
3. Consider meditating before your appointment.
Meditation, essential oils and deep breathing are not for everyone. However, these can be helpful and calming before a dental visit.
For example, try dabbing a little chamomile or lavender essential oil on your temples or at your pulse points for relaxation. You could also use a heated neck wrap or squeezable stress ball before and during your appointment.
During the appointment, take care to breath slowly and deeply using your diaphragm. This can help counteract the adrenaline that may be coursing through your body. Clear your mind and think happy thoughts. Also, try to smile throughout the procedure to keep your spirits up.
4. Keep your regular appointments.
Going to the dentist regularly can prevent many problems with your teeth. For example, you will have fewer cavities and be less likely to require complex dental work, such as a root canal.
People who skip appointments are at risk for larger problems and more extensive procedures. Frequently cancelling or rescheduling appointments can lead to poor oral health. However, it also increases anxiety. The longer you put off your visit, the more worked up you may get. Therefore, schedule the visit, put it on your calendar, and make it a point to attend.
5. Practice good oral health every day.
Many people are tempted to attack their teeth with extra vigor right before an appointment. However, aggressively brushing a tooth that seems discolored or flossing until your gums bleed is not a good idea.
You may be worried that your hygienist or the dentist will judge the state of your mouth. However, last minute attacks on a tooth will be obvious to the oral professionals. In addition, you may do more harm than good.
Therefore, make sure that you brush at least twice a day and floss regularly to keep your mouth happy and your smile beautiful.
A dental visit does not have to be painful. With the proper care and preparation, you can have a calm and comfortable appointment.
Read next: 5 Reasons Why You Need Dental Insurance
Although most people cringe when thinking about visiting a dentist, it is an important part of a solid oral health routine. Taking care of your teeth is essential.
A healthy mouth will have a positive effect on your overall health. It is wise to learn how often you should visit your dental care provider, the importance of regular checkups, and why procrastinating can cause major problems and expenses.
How Often You Should Receive a Dental Checkup
When you have a healthy mouth and follow good oral hygiene, you should receive a cleaning and checkup twice a year. Most dental insurance policies cover these preventative appointments.
A professional cleaning eliminates bacteria that causes plaque. However, it reestablishes itself within 48 hours. Even when you brush and floss at home, it is nearly impossible to prevent all plaque from sticking to your enamel.
The longer it remains, the more it will calcify, which makes it impossible to remove without scraping. Having a dental hygienist clean your mouth twice a year lowers the likelihood of having troublesome tartar accumulate.
People at high risk of developing a dental disease may wish to visit a dentist more than twice a year. Groups most likely to require frequent care include smokers, diabetics, pregnant women, and individuals with gum disease. During times of stress or sickness, you may wish to schedule appointments more often as well.
Importance of Regular Dental Visits
According to the American Dental Association, regular dental exams are the keys to maintaining a healthy mouth. Regular visits help you enjoy a whiter smile, avoid bad breath, and keep your natural teeth as long as possible. At each appointment, you will reap the benefits of a professional cleaning and examination.
Visiting your dentist includes more than checking for decay. During a normal examination, the dentist will evaluate the health of your gums. This helps prevent and treat early signs of periodontal disease.
It is not unusual for your dental provider to examine your tongue, throat, face, and neck to make sure there are no symptoms of oral cancer or other serious conditions. If you suffer from headaches or jaw problems, the dentist will check your bite and jaw joints as well.
The most important part of each checkup is the professional cleaning. A dental hygienist will use special tools to remove plaque and tartar from your teeth. The dentist will take x-rays to find any hidden cavities. A thorough fluoride cleaning may help remove stains caused by certain foods, beverages, and cigarettes.
Reasons Not to Wait Too Long for Professional Dental Care
Many people rationalize reasons for avoiding annual dental checkups. They believe it saves time and money. However, when you wait too long for professional dental care, you are left vulnerable to unidentified decay or worse problems. Often, procrastinating can actually cause you to spend more time in the dentist’s chair treating expensive problems the dentist could found during a routine visit.
With regular checkups, your dentist can identify and treat small problems before they get out of hand. By the time you are in pain, issues have become serious, and treatment will need to be more invasive. For example, a small cavity that could have been easily filled may spread to the root and cause the need for a root canal. This procedure is much more extensive and costly. In severe cases, ignoring a minor problem that your dentist could have treated may lead to total tooth loss.
Fear is another reason may people avoid visiting a dental care provider. Today, many dental professionals offer sedated dentistry to lower patient anxiety. During all procedures, there are many ways to keep a person comfortable and calm.
Top Reasons to Have Dental Insurance
Dental coverage helps you lower the amount of money you must pay out-of-pocket for treatments. Since most plans cover yearly cleanings and checkups, they give you the opportunity to maintain a bright smile that is free of problems. Preventative maintenance helps uncover small issues before they become major concerns.
When you have insurance, you are more likely to make and keep your dental appointments. You will have less excuses to delay a visit. At each appointment, you will increase your oral health and overall well being. When your mouth is healthy, you are less apt to suffer from negative health problems. As periodontal disease begins, bacteria grows in the mouth and causes inflammation that may spread to other parts of the body, including the heart.
Although you may feel you cannot afford dental coverage, it is important to consult with a trusted insurance agent. There are plans at various monetary levels that can help you maintain the best oral health possible. Explore our website and uncover an insurance option that fits your needs and your budget.
Read next: Affordable Dental Insurance
I was born with dental anxiety, and I’ve had it all my life. Growing up, trips to the dentist involved being poked with sharp instruments while the dentist looked for cavities. A cavity meant submitting to the drill and enduring the ever-present possibility of great pain. I could hear the squeal of that drill in the waiting room, and I was certain that I also heard screams of dismay from whoever was unlucky enough to be sitting in the chair.
The Effect Of Dental Anxiety On Dental Hygiene
You would think that my fear of dentists and drills would have motivated me to take good care of my pearly whites. Just the opposite was true. My dental hygiene was minimal. A quick brushing in the morning was usually all I could manage, and never mind the flossing and mouthwash. I somehow developed the belief that the less I focused on what was going on inside my mouth, the less likely I would be to get cavities. This seemed to work. I had very few cavities growing up, and I ate plenty of candy.Gingivitis: An Early Dental Warning System
As a teenager, I started to get bleeding gums whenever I brushed. The dentist said I had gingivitis. That’s inflammation of the gums, and it’s caused by a bacterial infection. The dentist said if I didn’t floss and brush three times every day, the gingivitis would turn into periodontal disease which is the major cause of tooth loss. I was also told to get a cleaning and exam every six months. Rather than motivating me to take better care of my mouth, I simply continued to brush once a day, usually in the morning. Unlike periodontal disease, gingivitis is not really a big problem. Even with inflamed gums, I could still convince myself that everything was fine and that brushing in the morning was enough.
Periodontal Disease: Stuff Gets Serious
By the time I was a young adult, my gums began to protest. I was told by my dentist that I had periodontal disease. If I didn’t get gum surgery, I would lose almost every tooth within a few years! I started getting abscesses that involved some serious pain. But the dental anxiety that had so far kept me away from the dentist continued to convince me that I was better off on my own. Besides, I had no dental insurance, and the cost of gum surgery was considerable. Instead, I got antibiotics to treat the abscesses, and for the time being, it worked out quite well.
Falling Out And Moving Around
Although I had started out with an awesome smile, the periodontal disease started doing strange things in my mouth. My teeth became loose and were shifting their positions. My gums receded, the roots were exposed, and the roots were extremely sensitive to almost everything. I was getting abscesses more frequently, and the antibiotics were no longer able to kill off the infections. One day after dinner, I noticed that one of my smaller molars had vanished. Apparently, I had swallowed it. Almost every tooth was now crooked, and the gums were pulling even farther away from each tooth. I had abscesses constantly, there was significant bone loss in my jaw, and additional teeth began to fall out. I finally realized that even though I didn’t have dental insurance, I would have to fix the problem whether I had insurance or not.
The Scary Final Fix
I was told that because the periodontal disease was so advanced, every loose and crooked tooth would have to be extracted. Upper and lower partial dentures would be needed to fill in the gaps and create an even smile. The treatment involved almost ten extractions and being fitted for two partial dentures. The cost would be thousands of dollars, and the procedures were not covered by my insurance. Although I was still afraid of the dentist, I now had only two options. I could continue to ignore the problem, or I could get the job done. I made an appointment and lived in a state of terror for the week before the procedure. After looking for numerous last minute insurance plans, none would cover the treatment within the needed time frame, so I would have to pay for it myself, and it wasn’t going to be cheap.
A Happy Ending
Although I dreaded the procedure and wasn’t sure whether partial dentures would look natural, I was surprised by how well things turned out. My dentist put me under anesthesia, and the next thing I knew, I had teeth that were white, even and beautiful. I have learned from this experience. I no longer see the dentist a as predator armed with drills and pliers. I get regular cleanings, I brush and floss twice a day, I rinse with mouthwash and I visit my dentist for regular exams and cleanings. I now have a great dental plan to cover these visits, without having to pay for each visit myself. My mouth is now healthy. My only regret is that it took me so long to see that cooperating with the dentist would give me a better outcome than avoiding the dentist.
If you think flossing your teeth regularly is a pain, prison lawsuits highlight the problems that can arise when you skimp on flossing.
Inmates filed suits against the Palm Beach County Jail in Florida and the Westchester County Jail in New York because they did not have access to dental floss. The lack of floss, one inmate stated, resulted in “oral abscesses, pain, discomfort, tooth decay (loss), and could contribute to endocarditis.” [“Jail inmate goes beyond oral arguments in fight for right to floss,” The Palm Beach Post.]
Of course, not flossing your teeth won’t land you in prison, but it’s a fact that skipping the dental floss truly can be a serious offense when it comes to oral health.
What is a dental abscess?
Skipping dental floss can be a serious offense.
Let’s look at one of the problems cited by litigious inmates: dental abscesses. A dental abscess is a pocket of tissue inside the mouth or throat that is filled with pus.
The pus is the result of a bacterial infection. Bacteria typically get into teeth through a chip or crack, due to tooth decay, or as a result of periodontal disease.
Bacterial infections may also be the result of a cavity that has been left untreated. The symptoms of dental abscesses include extreme throbbing and relentless toothache-like pain, swelling, tenderness, sensitivity to heat and cold, and redness.
The lymph nodes in the neck may become swollen when a dental abscess is present. Chills, diarrhea, fever, nausea, sweating, and vomiting may also accompany acute cases.
Complications and consequences of dental abscesses
Whether you believe inmates should have access to floss or not, the jury is unanimous on one point: the consequences of leaving a dental abscess untreated can be deadly. Dangerous and sometimes life-threatening complications can result if a dental abscess is not treated properly. In some very advanced cases, immediate hospitalization may even be necessary.
Swelling related to an abscess can perforate bone. The pressure from an untreated abscess can block airways and make it hard to breathe. When related to upper teeth, dental abscesses may lead to blood infection, a condition called septicemia. Extremely rare complications include brain abscesses and meningitis.
…even in cases where an abscess spontaneously drains or releases the stored up pus, the infection will not go away without proper treatment and care.
While an abscess may drain without intervention, if left untreated the bacteria may spread to the jaw, to other parts of the head, neck, and chest, or throughout the entire body through a condition known as sepsis. It is important to note that, even in cases where an abscess spontaneously drains or releases the stored up pus, the infection will not go away without proper treatment and care.
Who’s at risk for dental abscesses, and why?
Several factors can put a person at greater risk for developing a tooth abscess. The risk of developing dental abscesses is obviously greater in people who do not take proper care of their teeth. Diet also plays an important role in dental health, and consuming too much sugar is known to promote cavities, which can progress to form dental abscesses in some cases.
In addition, complications from abscesses can spread more easily in people with underlying health issues and weakened immune systems. People with HIV/AIDS, diabetes, or any medical condition that makes it more difficult for the body to stay healthy are at greater risk, generally speaking.
When to seek professional care
Considering the life threatening nature of dental abscesses, it is important to seek professional care if you have any of the symptoms related to dental abscesses:
- If you suspect you or someone you know has an abscess, call your dentist right away
- If you cannot reach your dentist, or if you are experiencing advanced symptoms such as fever, nausea, or vomiting, an emergency room should be your first stop
Treatments and medications for dental abscesses
In order to eradicate the infection the abscess must be drained. Abscesses sometimes rupture or drain on their own, or they may be drained by a doctor or dentist.
Treatment typically includes prescription pain killers and may include the use of antibiotics, especially where a weakened immune system is present. Tooth extraction is sometimes necessary, but a root canal may be performed to wipe out the infection and attempt to save the tooth.
Treatment typically includes prescription pain killers and may include the use of antibiotics…
To treat pain related to a dental abscess at home — either before seeing the dentist or doctor or after receiving treatment — over-the-counter pain relievers may be used. Ice packs can be applied to the swelling for a few minutes on and off. In addition, if an abscess drains on its own or is drained by a professional, rinsing the mouth with lukewarm water can help.
Preventing dental abscesses
Chances are you’ve never had a dental abscess. But, are you doing everything you need to do to make sure it stays that way? When it comes to anything as potentially life-threatening as dental abscesses, an ounce of prevention makes a ton of sense.
Maintaining good oral alth and preventing dental abscesses and tooth decay requires a daily regimen of brushing and flossing. To help ensure that tooth decay is exposed early and advanced problems such as dental abscesses are avoided entirely, be sure to have regular professional cleanings and dental checkups. Finally, drinking water that has been fluoridated and eating a healthy, well-balanced diet play important roles in maintaining overall dental health.
Chances are, you’ll never have a dental abscess. But then, no one’s challenging your right to floss. And only you can challenge yourself to do all you can to protect your teeth.
Most parents know about Early Childhood Caries (or cavities), also known as ECC. However, did you know covered cups for small children – notably sippy cups – can be detrimental to young teeth, too?
Early Childhood Caries also goes by another name: Baby Bottle Tooth Decay. ECC occurs when sugary foods and liquids create the thin film of bacteria known as plaque. Plaque produces acids that attack tooth enamel – for 20 minutes or longer after a meal – and create cavities. Protecting baby teeth from cavities is important because healthy teeth help young children learn to chew and speak.
Protecting baby teeth from cavities is important because healthy teeth help young children learn to chew and speak.
Early Childhood Caries Risk: Sippy cups and baby bottles concentrate pools of sugary liquids at the teeth.
Sippy cups and baby bottles concentrate pools of sugary liquids at the teeth, increasing the likelihood of the development of cavities in small children. And though sippy cups are a nice transition from bottle feeding – and less likely to cause orthodontic issues than bottles or pacifiers – they’re just as bad as bottles with regard to forming cavities.
Why? They’re portable for a toddler, who’s likely to keep that sippy cup mouthpiece in his or her mouth just as frequently as a bottle – whether on the go or falling asleep.
Tips for avoiding early childhood caries
The solution for avoiding these kinds of cavities is fortunately fairly simple:
- No bedtime food, cups or bottles. In addition to limiting the exposure of your child’s teeth to sugars, this limits choking hazards.
- As soon as possible, get your child used to drinking from a non-sippy cup. Try not to use a sippy cup as a pacifier.
- If you feel you must use a sippy cup, fill it only with water – never with sugary juices or liquids – and offer it only at mealtime or when your child’s thirsty. This will help limit the habit of carrying the cup around all the time.
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Finally, practice good oral hygiene methods to keep your toddler’s teeth clean and free of cavities. Brushing twice a day with an appropriately sized toothbrush and a small amount of fluoride toothpaste (approximately pea-sized) is a great start. Limit sugary snacks and beverages. And, of course, be sure to schedule regular visits to your child’s dentist for check-ups and cleanings.
Avoiding cavities is essential for all of us, but for our toddlers it’s particularly important. By keeping an eye on not only what they eat and drink, but how they do it, we can do our part to keep their mouths free of cavities for a lifetime.
Have you broken the sippy cup habit with your toddler? Leave a comment below to share what worked best for you!
Dental Care When Babies Become Tweens and Tweens Become Teens
From childhood through the teenage years, your children’s oral health needs change.
Our teeth are meant to last our entire lives. Pediatric dental care is caring for them properly in the first part of our lives. It is essential if we’re to enjoy them later on.
But that doesn’t mean that our children’s dental health needs are the same from childhood through the teenage years. Pediatric dental care can guide us along the way from baby teeth to fully mature adult teeth.
Young mouths need to be cared for, even if baby teeth haven’t come in yet. Oral bacteria can grow with or without teeth (and can also spread through saliva from mother to child), so starting a regimen of good oral hygiene habits early on is essential.
Start building good pediatric dental care habits
Wiping your baby’s gums after feedings with a clean, damp cloth will help remove food particles and the bacteria they produce. Once baby teeth begin to erupt, brushing gently with a child’s sized toothbrush and water will do the same. Usually tooth eruption begins around the six-month mark and is your reminder to schedule an appointment with your child’s dentist.
Pediatric dentistry guidelines encourage establishing a “dental home” for your child by their first birthday, a place where he or she (and you) can feel comfortable, ask questions, and receive guidance on what’s best for those new baby teeth.
By the time your child can be trusted to spit (rather than swallow) toothpaste, start using a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste for brushing. You should assist your child with this practice until the age of 6.
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Another very important issue for baby teeth is Early Childhood Caries (ECC), or Baby Bottle Tooth Decay.
Read: Early Childhood Caries: The Truth about Sippy Cups
Many parents feed their toddlers sugary drinks in bottles or sippy cups. These bacteria-producing liquids tend to pool around the front baby teeth when administered this way, creating concentrated areas for potential decay. Avoid giving your child juices or sweetened water in a bottle or sippy cup, and don’t let your child fall asleep with these in hand (or mouth!).
If your water supply lacks proper levels of fluoride, pediatric dental care techniques can assist your child with fluoride washes and applications to strengthen baby teeth enamel.
Once solid foods are introduced to your toddler, maintaining good eating habits will go a long way toward ensuring those baby teeth are replaced with healthy adult teeth. Besides providing excellent nutritional value, fruits, vegetables and whole grains can also leave less fuel for plaque to grow with. Adequate exposure to fluoride is a must for young children. If your water supply lacks proper levels of fluoride, pediatric dental care techniques can assist your child with fluoride washes and applications to strengthen baby teeth enamel.
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Dental hygiene as children grow older
As your child grows, their dental hygiene habits can slack off. School, sports, activities, friends, and junk food can all conspire to get in the way of good oral hygiene habits. Reminding your adolescent or teen that their baby teeth are gone and their adult teeth are the last set to come in is important. Also, hormonal changes can make teens susceptible to gingivitis and other periodontal diseases due to extra gum sensitivity. Make it easy for your teen to brush, floss and eat well. Plenty of healthy snacks around the house are a good way to avoid the temptation of junk food.
Tobacco – whether smoking or chewing – puts your teen at great risk for periodontal diseases, not to mention oral cancers.
Many teens require orthodontics, which require even greater vigilance in the oral hygiene department. Follow your orthodontist’s instructions on the proper way to keep braces and retainers clean.
It really all comes down to the oral hygiene habits you began practicing with your young child. If they can make brushing at least twice daily, flossing, and eating smart a priority, their teeth will likely last well past their own children’s formative years.
Do you have experience transitioning a child through the phases of dental care? What’s your best tip for others who are going through this now? Let us know in the comments section!
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