A recent study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) shows about 45% of children in the United States have cavities or tooth decay by the age of 19 years old (AAP, 2022). There are ways to maintain oral health and prevent dental caries that can be started during infancy and continue throughout childhood. From the moment your child's first tooth breaks through, twice daily brushing with toothpaste containing fluoride is an important routine to start. Fluoride is an ingredient that helps protect teeth from decay; it is found in tap water, or can be applied as toothpaste or a fluoride varnish at your dental office.
The drinks and food your child takes can also play a large part in protecting their teeth. Sugary beverages, such as juice, should be very limited and a child should never be put to bed with a bottle as this can lead to tooth decay. Between meals, the AAP recommends only offering water as a beverage to prevent a constant coating of sugar on the teeth.
Good teeth brushing habits can start with the parents! You can be a role model by flossing, brushing teeth twice a day, visiting your dentist for routine cleanings, and avoiding sugary drinks. Even as your child grows and matures, it is important to check in with them and monitor their brushing until about 10 years old. Don’t forget to schedule your child’s first dental appointment when they reach their first birthday!
For more information on oral health and how to care for your child’s teeth click: Healthy Children Good Oral Health.
American Academy of Pediatrics. (2022, December 19). American Academy of Pediatrics Updates Recommendations on Maintaining, Improving Children’s Oral Health. https://www.aap.org/en/news-room/news-releases/aap/2022/american-academy-of-pediatrics-updates-recommendations-on-maintaining-improving-childrens-oral-health/