Tooth decay is the number one childhood illness, but also the most preventable. Since dental health is an indicator of overall health, it’s important to take care of our children’s teeth and establish healthy habits early.
- Babies’ teeth begin to develop between the third and sixth months of a mother’s pregnancy, making it important for pregnant mothers to take care of their teeth and bodies with a well-balanced diet and good brushing habits.
- Hormonal shifts during pregnancy can cause pregnancy gingivitis, which results in red and swollen gums that can bleed easily.
- Research suggests a link between preterm, low-birth weight babies, and gingivitis, so see your dentist for regular checkups to ensure a healthy mom and baby.
Good Habits Start Early
- Start taking care of your baby’s mouth within the first days after birth by regularly wiping his or her gums with a wet cloth.
- Once teeth begin to appear (typically around 6 months), you can begin to brush them with a soft-bristled brush and water.
- Make sure to brush your toddler’s teeth twice a day using a small drop of toothpaste. When they have at least two teeth that touch, you can start to floss.
- Visit your dentist for a checkup before your baby’s first birthday.
- Tooth decay can impact a child’s overall quality of life, inhibit their cognitive and social development, and compromise their growth, function, and self-esteem.
- Even baby teeth are susceptible to cavities. Maintaining healthy baby teeth is important for children to be able to chew their food and develop language skills.
- To avoid “baby bottle mouth,” only put breast milk, formula, or milk in bottles and do not put children down to sleep with a bottle.
- Children who drink sugary beverages have nearly double the risk of tooth decay and an increased risk of obesity and diabetes. Serve milk and water instead.
Make Brushing Fun
- Make your own toothpaste with a little bit of baking soda and water. Or have your children pick out a flavored one they like.
- Have them brush their teddy bear’s teeth so they see the toothbrush as a fun toy to use every day.
- Try singing a song to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” Brush, brush, brush your teeth, get them nice and clean ….
- Read one of these fun books on brushing teeth.