Tooth decay may start at a young age, making children susceptible soon after the first tooth appears. Half of 2-11-year-olds have been afflicted with tooth decay, while 32% of kids between 9 -11 years old present at the dentist with cavities in permanent teeth. Baby formula with added sugar and heavily-sugared fruit juices are major contributors to this public health challenge. Even breast milk, which contains natural sugars, can cause cavities in baby teeth.
Proactive care for baby teeth should begin when the first tooth appears. Our Dentiste team recommends an initial exam no later than your child’s first birthday. And regular check-ups every six months will put kids on a schedule that’s similar to many adult patients. We monitor your child for early dental problems and offer preventive coaching that helps with specific conditions seen in kids.
As a parent, your efforts and early steps can help protect your child against cavities. Don’t wait for your first visit to start with a few easy habits:
- Flush your baby’s teeth with water or wipe them down with a moist cloth after feeding, especially before sleep. Milk or formula residue left in the mouth can encourage decay even in breastfed babies. Untreated cavities frequently lead to pain and swelling.
- If possible, wean your child from breastfeeding or bottled milk by one year of age. This helps sidestep decay, while minimizing the chance of jaw growth issues as a result of excessive sucking action.
- Begin brushing when the first tooth breaks through the gum. Even a small portion of exposed tooth can form a cavity. Start with a soft bristled brush and water, and ask your dentist when it’s safe to introduce a small amount of toothpaste.
- Once your child develops enough to begin brushing on their own, continue to monitor their technique, and go back to brush any areas that they missed.
- Avoid giving bottles of sugary drinks or milk before sleep, including naps.
- Provide a straw with sugary drinks. This helps the liquid contact fewer teeth than when sipping from a cup.
- Set limits on sugary foods and drinks, and minimize snacking between meals.