Sources say that nearly half of all children have tooth decay before entering Kindergarten. While it may be tempting to think baby teeth are no big deal, they can in fact become so decayed that crowns or caps are needed. This is particularly true if the child is on the younger side of toodlerhood (i.e. it will be several years before baby teeth will begin to fall out on their own). Thus caring for your toddler’s teeth is extremely important. Here are some tips.
From the time the first tooth comes in, keep it clean! Use plain water and gauze or a washcloth to clean infant teeth twice daily. Then when your toddler is about 2 to 2 1/2, you can use a small, soft-bristled toothbrush twice a day. At this point, experts still advise using plain water and no toothpaste.
Clean Your Child’s Teeth
While it’s a good idea to foster independence in your child, helping him clean his teeth is necessary until he is elementary-school age, say experts. If you’re not comfortable doing the job yourself, instead supervise, check the brushing process, and do any “touch-ups” that may be necessary.
Baby Bottle Decay
It’s not a good idea to let your baby go to sleep while sucking on a bottle of juice, formula, or milk. However, it has been noted that babies who fall asleep while nursing do not experience the same level of decay as bottle-fed babies who are given a bottle at nap time and/or bedtime. If your baby is bottle-fed, it’s probably not a good idea to give your baby a bottle while going to sleep unless it’s filled with plain water or a sugar-free liquid. (Sugars are what cause tooth decay, according to experts.)
Early Dental Visits
Statistics show that toddlers who visit the dentist by the age of one have fewer dental problems and lower levels of decay than children whose parents wait until they’re older. Though it may seem premature, visiting the dentist will become a normal routine for your toddler and won’t be such a big deal as your child grows older.
When to Use Toothpaste
Professionals note that fluorosis – or too much fluoride in the system – is a potential risk of using fluoridated toothpaste too early. Young children tend to swallow toothpaste, so it’s recommended that you use a fluoride-free toothpaste until your child reliably refrains from swallowing his toothpaste.