Healthy mouth, healthy baby. That should be the motto of every parent. You may not know it, but good oral health is integral to overall body health. Not only do we eat with our mouths, but our mouths can also allow bacteria into our bodies if our oral health isn’t on point. February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, so let’s talk about instilling good dental health habits in our children now so they can reap the benefits later.
A Healthy Mouth for Life Starts at Birth
Many people don’t realize that a healthy mouth is key to overall health. Chronic gum disease has been linked to increased risk of heart, liver, and kidney disease, and while it takes a protracted period of time for that to occur, it takes less time for the other more well known oral diseases like gum disease and tooth loss to occur. To ensure that our children grow up to be adults with good oral hygiene, we need to get them started early.
A Preventable Disease Among Children
Did you know that tooth decay ranks as the most common chronic disease among children even though it’s largely preventable? Around 33% of children aged 2 to 8 have cavities in their baby teeth, and 20% of children in that age group have cavities in their adult teeth. That’s largely due to the public’s lack of understanding of recommended dental guidelines. A recent United Healthcare survey determined that only 31% of Americans understood guidelines for children’s oral care, with 40% saying the correct age for the first dental visit be at 2 or 3 years old. 27% said four years of age or older was the proper age.
Ensure a Healthy Mouth for Baby
Good oral care seems to be a mystery for lots of parents – I was one of them. Luckily, my dentist talked to me about proper oral health care for my baby before I gave birth. I just happened to have a routine cleaning scheduled about a month prior to giving birth, and he told me all about how to properly take care of my little one’s teeth. But not all parents are that lucky. Let’s take a look at how to ensure a healthy mouth for our babies.
Proper Oral Care for Baby’s Teeth and Gums
- No milk, formula, fruit juice, or sweetened liquid while putting baby to bed. These can pool in a baby’s mouth, forming a sugary film on baby’s teeth, which can lead to decay and infection.
- Clean baby’s gums with water and a soft cloth or child-sized toothbrush starting from birth. At age 2, parents can brush baby’s teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a dab of fluoride toothpaste no large than a grain of rice.
- Ensure you teach your toddler to spit out the toothpaste.
- Schedule baby’s first dental visit when the first tooth comes in – generally at 6 to 12 months of age.
Proper Oral Care for Children’s Teeth and Gums
- Help your child brush two times a day, using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Ensure your child doesn’t swallow the toothpaste, as this could cause them to have too much fluoride.
- Begin flossing and teaching the kids how to floss when their back teeth come in.
- Give children healthy snacks such as fruits and veggies in lieu of sugary snacks. Sugar feeds decay-causing bacteria with release acids that damage teeth.
- Take your child to the dentist twice a year for routine cleanings and checkups and ask about fluoride supplements to help strengthen and protect tooth enamel.
- Ask your dentist about applying sealants – plastic coatings – to your child’s back teeth when your child turns 6. This is the time when molars first come in, and sealants can help protect them.
A Healthy Mouth for a Healthy Life
When we teach our kids good oral care starting from birth, we teach them how to ensure that they have a healthy mouth for their entire lives. We are giving them the gift of good oral health and good overall health when we start good oral care habits early. These tips can help you ensure that your child has a healthy mouth now and a healthy mouth as an adult.
This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.