Tooth decay affects about 33% of kids between the ages of two and five within the United States. This statistic is concerning, since oral health is linked to overall health and wellness. Unfortunately, many parents have some common misconceptions that could be harming their child’s oral health.
Tooth decay is still the most common chronic infections disease in kids, but parents can take measures to prevent the problem.
Here’s a closer look at some essential tips recently released by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry that can benefit your child’s oral health by preventing tooth decay.
Tip #1 – Skip the Bottle at Bedtime
It’s tempting to soothe your baby to sleep by letting them have a bottle at bedtime. Unfortunately, milk and juice both have sugar in them. The sugar coats the baby’s teeth while they are sleeping, and this can cause tooth decay. If you must give your baby a bottle to soothe him to sleep, you should only put water in it.
Tip #2 – Don’t Use Teething Rings and Topical Teething Gels
When your baby is teething, all you can think about is getting the screaming and pain to stop for your child. Most parents turn to teething rings and topical teething gels during teething. However, both could be harmful to your child. Teething rings have chemicals that may harm your child. Those topical teething gels with lidocaine or benzocaine can also harm your child according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Tip #3 – Stick to Designated Mealtimes
Make sure your child is sticking to designated mealtimes instead of grazing throughout the day. Prolonged exposure to the sugar in sugary foods and drinks can cause tooth decay. Stick with designated meal times so your child isn’t constantly exposing his teeth to food. Make sure your child is drinking plenty of water each day as well, since water helps wash away food particles and sugar.
Tip #4 – Avoid Prolonged Pacifier Use
Many children find using a pacifier soothing, and that’s fine when children are young. However, using a pacifier for too long can increase your baby’s risk of developing cavities. Prolonged pacifier use also can affect your child’s bite, resulting in an overbite. If you need help breaking the pacifier habit, talk to your pediatric dentist for some helpful tips that fit your child’s specific situation.
Of course, routine oral hygiene and regular checkups with a pediatric dentist are also essential for keeping your child’s teeth healthy. Start adding these important tips to your child’s life and you’ll reduce their risk of developing tooth decay, improving their oral and overall health now, and in the years to come.