Oral Health & How it Impacts Early Childhood

Many young parents know the importance of bringing your children in for routine dental cleanings and exams. Although most parents don’t understand the importance of those check-ups and the role they play in their child’s overall health and life. February is Children’s Dental Health Awareness Month, and we’re doing our best to educate our patients and the community on the importance of oral health from a young age. Our doctors have been connecting with kids in the classrooms, in the community, and in the office to help educate and try to make it exciting for kids to brush, floss, and take the best care of their teeth possible. Keep reading below to learn more about children’s dental health and how to help keep your child healthy. As always, call us or schedule an appointment if you would like to discuss any of this information in greater detail, we are here to help and your child’s overall health and wellness is our priority!

Did you know?

  • 11% of children under 3 years have experienced dental decay or cavities
  • 47% of school entry aged children have tooth decay
  • Dental decay or cavities is the third most common reason for preventable hospital admissions in children under 5 years
  • 43% of children aged between two and eight years of age brush their teeth less than twice a day
  • Children at risk of being overweight can have a higher chance of getting cavities and having decay than their normal weight peers
  • 71% of children aged between one and five years have never head a dental visit

Tooth decay is the most common chronic illness in children and can have a profound impact on a child’s health and quality of life. Like other bacterial infections, tooth decay can worsen if left untreated. Children can be affected by having pain and discomfort, difficulty sleeping, difficulties chewing, affecting growth and development, poor self-esteem and social isolation, speech development problems, higher risk of new decay in other baby teeth, and potential damage to developing permanent teeth.

How Can Parents Help?

 

Do a daily check of the gums and teeth

Conduct a ‘lift the lip’ oral check of your child – In a healthy mouth, teeth are not discolored and the gums are pink, indicating a healthy blood supply

 

Identify Signs of Decay

 

Have your children see the dentist for a routine exam every 6 months

 

 

Things to know: through the ages

0 to 12 months

  • Do not put a baby to sleep with a bottle – pooling of milk (containing lactose) around the teeth overnight can lead to decay
  • Start cleaning teeth as soon as they appear
  • Wipe their gums after every feeding
  • Use a small soft toothbrush with water or a fluoride free toothpaste (safe for swallowing)
  • From 6 months, introduce drinking from a cup

12 to 18 months

  • Brush child’s teeth with water twice a day (no toothpaste)
  • After 12 months children should be drinking from a cup
  • When your child celebrates their 1st birthday, schedule their 1st dentist visit
  • Brush for about 2 minutes

18 months to 5 years

  • At 18 months start using a pea sized smear of low fluoride toothpaste
  • Assist child brush their teeth twice a day until they are eight years old
  • Water is the best drink – avoid sugary juices
  • By ages 3-4 all baby teeth should have appeared
  • Brush for about 2 minutes

For all children

  • Fruit juice and fruit drinks are not recommended
  • Give fresh fruit instead of fruit juice – chewing stimulates saliva which protects teeth against decay
  • Strongly limit sugary drinks including: soft drinks, fruit juice, sports drinks, vitamin waters, fruit drinks and energy drinks
  • Limit processed foods and foods high in sugar to reduce the risk of tooth decay and obesity
  • Use a song, stopwatch, or app to track time and make it fun
  • Wear a mouth guard in sports to protect your teeth

 

Brushing Techniques

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Brush all surfaces of each tooth gently back and forth
  • Angle the brush along the gumline
  • Use a pea-sized dab of toothpaste
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • It’s always fun to brush the tongue