Believe it or not, a third of children today have tooth decay before even starting school. According to statistics published by the Health & Social Care Information Centre, tooth decay is one of the main causes of hospital visits for children in elementary school. Surprisingly, 25,812 children ranging from ages 5 to 9 went to the hospital for tooth extractions in the last year alone.
Here are some tips below on how to protect your child’s teeth to make sure that your child doesn’t become part of these statistics!
- Drink less fruit juice!
Just because fruit juice is nutritious and often rich in vitamin C does not mean that it’s also beneficial for your teeth! Many juices have around the same amount of sugar as that in sodas, or even more. For instance, NPR states that apple juice contains 65.8 grams of sugar per liter, while cola contains 62.5 grams of sugar per liter. This copious amount of sugar leads to tooth decay. Furthermore, the acid from the juice destroys the enamel of teeth, which can cause teeth to deteriorate. Even the British Dental Association claims that 50% of children ranging from four to 18 years old show these signs.
Because of these harmful effects of fruit juice, dentists recommend water and milk as healthy beverage alternatives for children. If your child is still craving fruit juice, try to dilute it as much as possible and make sure that your child has a meal with it. Also, try your best to avoid letting your child have too much contact time with the cup and his or her teeth and instead opt for using a straw.
- Avoid dried fruit !
Dried fruit isn’t a good replacement for candy – it has a great deal of sugar, and even worse, its sticky texture clings onto your child’s teeth. Due to these unhealthy properties, dried fruit can ruin enamel and rot your little one’s molars. Although chocolate isn’t a great option, dark chocolate is known to be rich in antioxidants that help prevent the spread of tooth-decay causing bacteria.
Whole fruit can be a better option than dried fruit and fruit juice because it contains water and fibers that help wash away sugar from teeth. However, try not to feed your child more than one or two low-sugar fruit pieces (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, kiwis, peaches, and pears) instead of high-sugar fruit pieces (grapes or pineapple) per day. Incorporate fruit into meals rather than simply having them as snacks. Breadsticks, toast, cheese, nuts, or seeds are some healthier snack alternatives.
- Baby teeth matter!
It's important not to presume that just because baby teeth are not permanent, that they should not be taken care of! Your child’s permanent teeth are at a higher risk of decay and other dental problems when primary teeth decay. Baby tooth decay could lead children to experience dental anxiety, which could make them less likely to visit the dentist later on.
- Help your child brush his/her teeth!
Depending on how mature your child is, you should help brush your child’s teeth until at least age seven to ensure that they are using proper brushing techniques.
- Proper brushing techniques!
- Don’t let your child brush his/her teeth right after eating, particularly after eating or drinking something acidic. Doing so will brush the enamel away! Your child should either brush before eating breakfast or wait an hour after the meal. Chewing sugar-free gum can also be an effective way to clean teeth, because it produces saliva, which defends against decay, and brings mouths back to a neutral pH level.
- It doesn’t matter if your child uses a manual or electric toothbrush. What’s important is that the brushing lasts for at least two minutes! Electric toothbrushes often have built-in timers, so this feature can be effective.
- Don’t let your child rinse the toothpaste away right after brushing! The fluoride in the toothpaste can keep protecting his or her teeth for 30 minutes. Children under three should use toothpaste with 1,000 fluoride parts per million, while children over three should use adult toothpaste that contains 1,450 fluoride parts per million.
For many parents, the first time they took their children to the dentist was when their children were at least one year old. However, parents should set their first appointment for when their children’s teeth begin to come out, which is around five to six months old. Further oral health tips for children can be found here.
This past spring, we welcomed Dr. Van, our Pediatric Dentist, onto our caring team at the Wellesley Dental Group! Dr. Van strongly believes in the importance of creating a fun and welcoming atmosphere for patients as well as parents. One of his goals is to introduce good dental habits to our youth, preventing dental diseases later on in life.
Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment and consultation.
Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist Dr. Van. Dr. Emad is happy to help with your orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other oral surgery needs Dr. Ghazi would be more than willing to help.