Dr. Charles Brenner shares advice to start your children on the path to a healthy and happy smile for years to come
There are a number of ways parents can provide dentally healthy opportunities to their children to avoid future problems throughout their adult years. These include discontinuing the nursing bottle by 10-12 months of age, wiping an infant's gums with a soft cloth at each bath, using a small soft-bristle toothbrush by 18 months, avoiding sugar-containing drinks in the sippy cup and introduction to the dental experience at an early age before problems develop. I personally like to see children at age 24-30 months, when they can understand the positive value of a visit to the dentist.
It is well understood that tooth decay is related more to diet than other factors. Refined carbohydrates such as sugar and refined flower are a key source of the nutrients that bacteria in a child's mouth need to survive. These germs rapidly produce acid as a waste product that attacks and weakens tooth enamel, eventually leading to cavities. Tooth brushing cannot prevent this fast enough to avoid the destructive action of these acids. This is true throughout our lives. Specific foods would include any pre-sweetened breakfast cereals, apple juice, convenient breakfast foods (Pop Tarts, toaster strudel and microwave cereal, raisins or any sticky sugar-containing foods, to name a few), which over time can be very damaging to tooth enamel.
There are a number of ways to help strengthen enamel against these daily acid attacks. If you are on well water, fluoride supplements prescribed by a child's pediatrician or dentist hardens enamel in developing, unerupted permanent teeth.
If you’re on a city water system, check with the local health department to see if the water contains added fluoride. The use of a fluoride-containing toothpaste by age 2 1/2 to 3, to strengthen enamel of teeth already erupted, will help. The application of dental sealants on the chewing surfaces of permanent molars (age 6+) is extremely effective in preventing decay.
Take your child to a dentist well-versed in preventive care at an early age in order to learn more about how to ensure a lifetime of good dental health.
DENTISTRY FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
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