You might be understandably surprised to take a 2-year-old to the dentist only to discover that he has cavities in his tiny teeth. But the truth is that as soon as children begin to grow teeth, they are susceptible to the same potential decay and other issues that older children and adults face, which is why parents must begin caring for their children’s teeth from the moment the start to come in. Although most tiny tots aren’t particularly keen on maintenance tasks like brushing, flossing, and so on, they’re even less likely to enjoy having cavities filled. And the best way to teach them to develop their own oral health routine is to start them young. Of course, there are several steps you can take to keep your child’s teeth strong and healthy. Here are a few strategies to protect against decay, cavities, and other dental health issues.
The first and most important step is to develop a dental care regimen at home. This includes brushing with a soft-bristle toothbrush that is appropriately sized for your toddler or young child, as well as flossing after every meal. You should also add rinsing to your routine if you haven’t already, provided your child is old enough to understand that he has to spit out the mouthwash rather than swallowing it. Make sure to use a child-safe mouthwash that contains no alcohol. ACT is a good option that comes in a variety of kid-friendly flavors like bubblegum, watermelon, and berry (flavors may change). And it features the fluoride kids need to build strong teeth and fight off cavities. Teaching your kids to adopt a daily routine that includes brushing, flossing, and rinsing after every meal is the best way to ensure that they avoid cavities, tooth decay, gum disease, and so on now and in the future.
But you also need to be aware of what they’re eating, or more to the point, what you’re feeding them, since the foods and beverages they consume could have a marked impact on their oral health. The worst offenders are sugary drinks, and for some reason, many parents do not seem to see the harm in giving their kids juice. Although it may be an easier way to encourage them to get vital nutrients than making them eat a piece of fruit, the truth is that juice has just as much sugar as (and sometimes more than) soda. Since you probably wouldn’t give a toddler soda, you should seriously rethink putting juice in a bottle or sippy cup. Instead, limit them to milk or water – preferably more of the latter, which aids the natural rinsing function performed by saliva. This will not only help to protect their teeth, but it could also guard against the onset of issues like childhood obesity and hyperactivity, provided you also make sure to limit their sugar intake where food is concerned.
Eventually your child may need braces, a night mouth guard, or any number of products and procedures designed to give them a beautiful smile and protect the health of their teeth. But if you’re looking to put the kibosh on tooth decay and make sure their teeth are healthy and strong from the get-go, starting a good oral health routine and monitoring their food and beverage consumption is a great place to start. And don’t forget to schedule regular visits with the dentist for check-up, cleaning, and advice on protecting your child’s dental health.