Once a baby comes into your life, your focus constantly remains on his/her well-being. And one such area of concern is your little one’s oral health. As if putting everything in his/her mouth as a baby wasn’t enough to cause infections, the problem increases once your child turns 18-24 months old and develops a full set of teeth. These primary teeth, commonly called milk teeth, generally fall off by the age of 6 or 7 giving way to permanent teeth. However, parents often wrongly assume that any decay of milk teeth will go away once they fall off. On the contrary, if this decay spreads to the gums, it might affect the growth and health of the permanent teeth. Therefore, it is prudent to ensure the good oral health of your kid for a healthy set of teeth in the future. So, here are a few ways you can prevent tooth decay in your child:
1. Avoid Sugary Foods
Kids just love sweets and that means lots of chocolates, candies, and pastries. On the flip side, though, certain bacteria in the mouth also love sweets. They use the sugars in our food and convert them into acids. These acids in turn cause cavities in the tooth and eventually tooth decay (1). While it is a herculean task to keep kids away from such foods, you can make it a rule for them to rinse or brush their mouth soon after having some, especially at night. Avoid fruit juices too as they contain high levels of concentrated sugars.
2. Watch What’s In The Bottle
A baby bottle becomes an integral part of your routine sooner or later, not only for formula but also for storing and feeding breast milk. As babies grow older, they carry forward this habit and even start using a sippy cup to help develop their swallowing abilities. While it is perfectly safe, the trouble occurs if your baby is clinging on to it for longer periods of time. The natural sugars present in breast milk, formula, and even fruit juices can stick to your child’s teeth. These can become the perfect breeding grounds for a bacterial infection (2). To prevent this, once your kid is done feeding on the milk, keep these bottles filled with water. Ensure that your kid strictly does not take the bottle to bed.
3. Avoid Junk Foods
Not only sweets, but certain junk foods too can result in a bacterial build-up. While chocolates and candies do get rinsed away with water, junk foods such as potato chips, cheese balls, biscuits, and crackers are harder to clean. Avoid such junk foods, especially in-between meals. Instead, replace these snacks with healthier options such as easy-to-chew fruits.
4. Brushing Twice A Day
This age-old practice still holds true. Fluoride helps to make our teeth resistant to bacterial infections. So, brushing your child’s teeth twice a day with a good fluoride toothpaste will not only help to dislodge any remnants of food in the teeth – especially in-between the gums – but will also make them bacteria-resistant. Brushing especially at night prevents bacterial buildup and tooth decay for a long time.
5. Refrain From Sharing Spoons
As adults, our mouths have large varieties of bacteria compared to the kids. So, when you share spoons with your little one, you might inadvertently end up transferring some of these bacteria through the saliva on your spoon. Refraining from sharing spoons will vastly reduce the chances of a tooth decay.
6. Regular Dental Check-Ups
Despite all your efforts, if you continue to see plaque build-up or stained teeth in your kid, make sure you visit your dentist. And why wait for a dental problem to take your child to a dentist? Once your baby is a year old, getting regular dental check-ups at least once in 4 to 6 months will help keep bacterial growth and tooth decay at bay.
Your child’s pearly smile lights up your life. So, a little care and effort will ensure that they can keep flashing that million dollar smile at you and make everything in life seem totally worth!
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