Tooth decay (cavities) is the single most common childhood disease. Each year, hundreds of thousands of children nationwide go untreated for tooth decay. This infectious disease can emerge in children as young as 6 months, as their teeth begin to appear. Children who drink large quantities of sugary liquids including milk, juice, and formula are at high risk for tooth decay. It can also affect a child's speech, communication, physical development, nutrition and even sleep patterns. The good news is that tooth decay is preventable and can be treated with these simple steps: Infants:
- Make sure your child visits the dentist no later than 6 months after their first tooth emerges
- After feedings, wipe your babies gums with a warm wet wash cloth to reduce the amount of sugar on the gums
- After the first tooth emerges, begin brushing your babies teeth with a baby approved toothpaste and toothbrush.
- Make sure children continue to visit the dentist twice a year for a check-up
- Serve children primarily water except during mealtimes. Other liquids have large amounts of sugar which leads to tooth decay.
- Serve liquids with a straw or sippy cup so that the liquid doesn't directly touch the teeth
- Dispense a dab of toothpaste on a child's toothpaste
- Serve snacks that include whole foods such as apple slices or carrots
- Limit time in front of screens. When a child is sedentary, they are more likely to snack frequently exposing a child's teeth to sugar more frequently.