What is the first thing you notice about a person? Is it their smile?
Healthy teeth begin in the womb even before we are born! After birth, children can acquire bacteria that cause cavities from caregivers who share spoons, test food before giving it to children, and any other action where saliva is shared. Once dental caries (the disease process that leads to tooth decay and cavities) sets in, a child is more susceptible to cavities throughout his or her life.
Follow these five steps to give your child the best chance for healthy teeth:
1) Encourage healthy eating habits – plenty of fresh veggies and fruits, with infrequent snacking between meals.
2) Brush her teeth twice daily (with fluoride toothpaste for children who can spit) and floss before bedtime!
3) Drink tap water (that has fluoride in it!)
4) Discourage sharing of utensils and straws, and other actions that share saliva.
5) Seek early and regular dental care for your children.
The better you care for your child’s teeth early on, the better chance they have to avoid tooth decay and have a happy smile into their adult life. That way, the first thing everyone will notice about your child will be his brilliant smile!
For more information, you can see the CDC Division of Oral Health, National Maternal and Child Oral Health Policy Center Trendnotes, and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Children’s Dental Health Policy.
Written by Darby S. Petitt, Ph.D.
P.S. Support kids’ health (including dental hygiene!) around Colorado by making a donation to Healthy Learning Paths today. The first 100 people to donate $10 or more are automatically entered to win a Family Four (4) Pack to the Denver Zoo! Donate here.