The statistics concerning tooth decay in children are an eye-opener for many parents. It is estimated that 5 percent of babies will exhibit some form of tooth decay by the age of 9 months while 15 percent will have cavities by the time they reach their first birthday. The rate increases with age so much so that approximately 40 percent of children 12 years of age and older will suffer from average periodontal disease.
With such poor statistics, the obligation of parents to prevent tooth decay in their children cannot be overemphasized. After all, parents must serve as role models and look after the welfare of their children when it comes to matters of health, of which dental health is a big part. Keep in mind that good dental health is closely connected with good nutrition, good immunity and good mental well-being.
Start During Pregnancy
What many mothers do not realize is that good oral health starts from the moment their babies are conceived, both for mother and child. This is because strep bacteria from dental diseases can be transmitted from the mother to the baby in the womb. Thus, pregnant women are advised to practice good dental practices before and after delivery.
Upon birth, your baby will pick up the strep bacteria from the genitourinary tract while pick-up of said germs after delivery happen from kissing and direct contact with infected saliva. Studies have proven that mothers with frequent strep oral infections because of poor oral hygiene are more likely to infect their babies. Thus, in preventing tooth decay among babies, the mother must be very conscious of dental health.
Breast Milk and Infant Formula in Caries
The most significant modifier in the prevention of tooth decay in babies and children is their diet. Breast milk per se will not lead to tooth decay until such time that solid foods are introduced, in which case, dental hygiene must then be introduced. However, when your child is bottle-fed and carries a filled bottle in his mouth during the day and sleeps with one in his mouth at night, then there is a higher likelihood for inviting tooth decay and the strep bacteria into his mouth.
Alas, when your baby is on a solid food diet along with breast milk, research has surprisingly shown that it is 10 times more likely to cause cavities than infant formula! Regardless of whether your baby is on breast milk or on infant formula, you must ensure that your child's teeth undergo thorough cleaning several times each day preferably with a soft toothbrush, provide the appropriate fluoride toothbrush and start professional dental checkups starting at 1 year of age .
Start Early with Good Oral Hygiene
Of course, the best way in preventing tooth decay among children is to start them young on good oral hygiene. You have to teach them how to brush their teeth after every meal, use dental floss to clean between the teeth and eat only nutritious food. Sweets like chocolates, candies and soda must be kept to a minimum since their sugar contents are magnets for caries.
It is your responsibility as a parent to ensure that your child adopts healthy oral hygiene at an early age. This way, you are assured that they will be able to take care of their teeth even without your help.