There’s a pretty steep learning curve associated with parenting, and while most new parents read a lot of literature and seek advice from experienced family members, friends, and professionals, there’s no getting around the fact that things will get missed and mistakes will get made. Every parent has to go through this.
When it comes to your child’s teeth, you might think you’re doing everything right…until a cavity develops. In some cases, there are factors beyond your control at play, but you can still do a lot to prevent childhood cavities. Here are a few common mistakes you should try to avoid.
1. Sleeping with bottles
Babies and toddlers are naturally soothed by sucking, and it’s easy for them to drift off to dreamland with a bottle, but this habit can be bad for oral health over time. Not only can food linger in the mouth when your child stops swallowing, promoting bacterial growth, but once your child falls asleep, the flow of saliva slows, further exacerbating the problem. This can lead to tooth decay and other oral health problems, even before baby teeth begin to erupt. In other words, this is not a habit you want to promote.
2. Too much sugar
If you’ve banned soda from your household, you’re a step ahead of some families when it comes to preventing cavities, but chances are you still allow sugary drinks like juice that can be just as harmful to tiny teeth. This isn’t to say you can’t give your kids milk, juice, and other drinks that have sugar in them – you just have to take steps to limit sugar intake, and then make sure children brush and floss after ingesting sugar.
3. Lack of proper dental hygiene
You might not think you need to start brushing before kids get teeth. You might not think brushing the tongue is very important. You might think oral cleaning once a day is sufficient. A lack of proper dental hygiene is one of the most common causes of cavities in children.
Before teeth erupt, you should clean your child’s mouth (tongue, gums, cheeks) with a soft, clean cloth. Once teething begins, you should start brushing with a soft bristle brush at least twice a day, although after every meal is better. Your child’s dentist can tell you when to begin flossing and teach you how to carry out proper infant and toddler oral hygiene.
4. Lack of professional care
It’s a good idea to contact a dentist before your baby even gets teeth, and then visit regularly to ensure proper oral care from the get-go.