Proper dental care is critical for young children. As a parent, you set the tone on dental care, and the habits you help your child establish may affect their dental health, both as children and in the future when they become adults. Here are just a few of the reasons you need to help your children focus on proper dental care at a young age.
Starting Young Helps to Establish Positive Habits
Proper dental care actually starts before your children have their first teeth. Ideally, after a feeding, you should wipe your baby’s gums clean with a soft piece of gauze. This practice helps your child get used to basic oral hygiene, and that can make it a lot easier to brush your child’s teeth when they are a “stubborn” toddler. If you focus on dental care through your child’s toddler and preschool years, your child develops a basic understanding of dental care, and by the time they are in elementary school and older, they will know how to take care of their own teeth.
Parents Can Pass Cavity-Causing Bacteria to Their Babies
If you want to safeguard your child’s oral health, you should avoid sharing your toothbrush with them, and you should also be careful about sharing food or drinks that may pass saliva between the two of you. Unfortunately, most adults already have cavity causing bacteria in their mouths, and if saliva is passed from the parent to the child, it can introduce streptococcus mutans to the child’s mouth. This essentially turns a relatively sterile child’s mouth into a breeding ground for bacteria.
Children Have a High Risk of Dental Caries
The main reason you need to focus on dental care with young children is to help them avoid cavities. Unfortunately, cavities are extremely common in young children, and in fact, it’s the number one health issue that they face. Tooth decay is five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever. According to the Center for Disease Control, 42 percent of children ages two to 11 years old have cavities in their baby teeth, and just over 20 percent of children ages six to eleven have cavities in their permanent teeth.
Baby Teeth Are Important
Some parents think that baby teeth aren’t that important because they are going to fall out anyway. Although they eventually fall out, baby teeth can be hugely important to your child’s future dental health. Once your child starts to get their six year molars and other permanent teeth, decay in the baby teeth can spread to these permanent teeth. Additionally, the baby teeth act as placeholders until the permanent teeth come in. If they are not there, the other teeth may shift into that spot, leading to crooked teeth. Additionally, if teeth rub against each other in the wrong way, that can wear down enamel and lead to even more cavities.
Dental care is critical for people of all ages. If you have a child or a teen, we urge you to make an appointment with us today. Dentistry for Children and Teens is a pediatric dentist office with two locations in Atlanta, including our Northlake location in Tucker, GA and our newest location in the Chastain Park/Buckhead area.