Some people don’t think cavities in toddlers is anything to worry about because they will lose their baby teeth in a few years anyway, but nothing could be farther from the truth. If left unchecked, cavities can cause unnecessary pain for your little one, so the best strategy is to try to avoid them altogether.
It can be challenging to teach and encourage a small child to take care of his or her teeth, but with your urging and assistance, it’s certainly not impossible. Plus, you’ll be helping your child develop oral care habits that will stay with him or her for a lifetime.
If you are wondering how to avoid cavities in toddlers and wish to promote positive dental health to your child, read on. This post will teach you about dental development, children’s oral health, and actionable steps you and your son or daughter can take together to avoid toddler tooth decay.
The Dental Development of Children
When thinking about child development, you may not spend much time thinking about teeth. However, children’s teeth begin developing even before they are born. Although babies are born adorable and toothless, teeth are already growing below the gums and are waiting for the right time to appear.
The very first baby teeth can begin to become visible when a baby is around four months old. As any parent knows, this can be a painful and fussy time for any baby.
Over the next few years, twenty teeth will come to the surface. In most cases, this process is completed by the end of a child’s third year.
The pace and order teeth appear varies from child to child, but almost all children will have a full set of visible teeth by the time toddlerhood ends when they turn three. These teeth will begin to fall out just three or four years later as the adult teeth begin to take their places.
Even though baby teeth fall out after what seems like a very short time, these teeth need care and maintenance just as much as the adult teeth will for the rest of a child’s life. Further, not all baby teeth fall out quicky; some, like molars, will stick around until a child’s preteen years.
Why It Matters
There are several reasons caring for baby teeth is important. First of all, doing so helps to support and encourage the healthy formation of the adult teeth that the child will have for many decades to come.
Keeping these early teeth clean and healthy will help the child to avoid discomfort and pain down the road as well. Cavities in toddlers are no picnic for the child or for his or her caregivers, so it’s best to avoid them at all costs.
Issues With Toddler Oral Care
Parents often encounter several common obstacles when it comes to oral care for toddlers.
Because these children are so young, it’s no surprise that they may not like going to the dentist. A dentist’s office can seem like a scary place for a little one and this factor may discourage some parents from taking their toddlers for a check-up. To combat this, seek out a pediatric dentist; he or she will know all the tricks to help your son or daughter feels at ease.
Second, it may seem impossible to create an oral care routine for a child so young. With the right approach, though, convincing a toddler that oral care is important may be easier than you think. Rewards, games, and fun routines can help to make the process exciting and worthwhile for your toddler.
How to Avoid Cavities in Toddlers
When it comes to avoiding cavities in toddlers, it’s best to approach this challenge with a multi-faceted approach. These six tips can help you to instill excellent dental habits in your little one before he or she can even properly pronounce the word cavity.
1) Choose a Dentist
People often don’t realize how early care should be established with a dentist, but experts recommend that you begin a relationship with a pediatric dentist before the end of the child’s first year. This is a great way to start your child’s oral health off on the right foot.
Once you have settled on a dentist for your child, be sure to visit him or her on the recommended schedule. The best way to treat cavities is to detect them before they become a painful or elaborate issue.
2) Start a Cleaning Routine Early
Before your child can even hold a toothbrush, you should be brushing his or her teeth yourself. Even before teeth make their first appearance, you can clean the gums with a cloth, and then he or she will be less likely to reject the use of a brush when the teeth begin to appear.
3) Also, Floss
You can also floss between your child’s teeth once they appear. The more you do it, the less strange and awkward it will feel. Also, be sure to show your children that you floss your teeth, too. They’ll be more likely to follow your lead if they see you setting a good example.
4) Instill Good Drinking Habits
One of the main reasons that some toddlers end up with cavities is due to the fact that they sip too many sugary drinks. Many parents don’t realize the amount of sugar in popular juice brands that toddlers enjoy. Limit your child’s intake of these beverages and offer water instead, or at least dilute their juice with it.
5) Eliminate Bedtime Snacks
The last thing your child should do before going to bed is brush his or her teeth. Snacks after this process will result in bacteria remaining in the mouth overnight, which can lead to cavities. If your child requests a late-night snack, remind him or her that another round of tooth brushing will be required.
6) Add More Dairy
Dairy products help to neutralize acids that can eat away at tooth enamel. Tooth enamel is a vital protective layer on the outside of our teeth. Dairy can help to keep it safe and strong; milk, cheese, and yogurt are excellent options that most kids love.
Toddler Teeth: Worth Protecting
Clearly, there is a lot more to toddler dental care than many can even imagine. However, it is possible to avoid cavities in toddlers with a proper understanding of dental development in children and the right care routines.
Remember, the habits you instill in your child at a young age will stick with him or her for a lifetime; a diligent oral care routine starting in toddlerhood will save your child many headaches and much pain in the future.
If you are looking for an experienced, patient, and fun pediatric dentist in the Elizabethtown area, please give us a call. We would love to meet you and your child and we are happy to answer any questions you may have.