Even though extremely preventable, childhood tooth decay is the No. 1 chronic childhood illness in the United States.
When left untreated, tooth decay can have a devastating effect on children’s overall health and well-being. The largest contributor to the rise of this epidemic is the proliferation of added sugar in kids’ diets.
Sugar is now added to beverages and snacks at a rate that can be difficult for parents and caretakers to monitor. The problem with sugar is that it builds up bacteria that causes painful cavities.
Many parents believe baby teeth are not important because they fall out and are replaced. What parents may not know is cavities can easily spread from baby teeth to adult teeth. Neglected children’s teeth can lead to a lifetime of expensive, difficult and painful adult teeth problems.
The good news is tooth decay is almost entirely preventable. Establishing proper actions and habits are crucial for children to maintain good oral health throughout life. Increased dental care awareness by parents, teachers and other caretakers is another step toward eliminating children’s dental disease. Here are a few ways to establish great oral health routines in children of all ages:
Make sugary drinks a treat and serve only at mealtimes; serve water all other times, especially bedtime.
Baby teeth matter, so brush them as you would adult teeth as soon as they appear.
Check teeth for brown or black marks (signs of a cavity) on a regular basis.
Children should see a dentist by their first birthday. Early visits are crucial to catch problems early and learn more about the best ways to care for your child’s teeth.