No parent wants their child to have cavities and the majority of us take special care to ensure that each dental visit ends cavity-free. Yet, tooth decay remains the most common preventable childhood disease in the U.S. Here are a few simple mistakes that, if corrected, could save children from millions of cavities.
Not Starting Prevention Early Enough
Many parents wait until children are almost school-age before setting the first dental appointment and before they begin focusing on good oral habits. However, oral care should truly begin before primary teeth even appear. For example, parents can use a soft, damp cloth to clean their baby’s gums after each feeding. Scheduling the first dental appointment should also take place when the first tooth appears or before the age of one, whichever comes first. Finding a dental home early in your child’s life is one of the most important preventative measures you can take for your child’s oral future.
Baby bottles and Sippy Cups at Bedtime
Even though 80% of parents say they know that children should not be put to bed with a bottle of milk or juice, a surprising number of parents still do just that on a regular basis. Regularly allowing your children’s teeth to be constantly bathed in liquids other than water is one of the most significant contributors of early tooth decay. Even diluting juice with water can give bacteria the sugar they need to thrive inside your child’s mouth.
Not Teaching Kids to Floss
Most parents do a fantastic job of teaching their kids to brush their teeth (two minutes, twice a day!) But recent studies have shown that 43% of school-aged children have never flossed their teeth…not even once. Brushing alone only reaches a quarter of tooth surfaces and a large number of cavities are actually found where a toothbrush can’t go – between teeth. It is important to floss for young children, who often don’t have the dexterity to floss on their own. Older children should be taught the correct way to floss daily. Here’s a great instructional sheet that provides some guidelines on flossing.
Thinking Sports Drinks are Better than Sodas
These days, nearly all parents are vigilant about keeping sodas away from their children. But one source of sugar may have simply been replaced by another. Sports drinks often contain just as many calories and sugar as soft drinks. Instead of serving kids sports drinks during sporting events and games, a better option is simply water. The types of activities that kids are involved in are rarely strenuous enough to require anything else.
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