When it comes to raising children, any parent knows that you have to pick your battles! Maybe you allow your child have a soda as long as they eat a vegetable at dinner. Or you might let them have some screen time if they’ve spent some time outside playing first. But when it comes to taking care of their teeth, is dental care a battle worth fighting? After all, the baby teeth just fall out anyway, right? Wrong! As a dentist in Selden, we’ve seen the effects that unhealthy baby teeth have on long-term oral health, so we thought we’d write a blog about how important it is to keep them in good shape. Keep reading to learn more!
Why Do Baby Teeth Matter?
Here are a few examples of how the baby teeth play a big role in the lifelong oral health of your children:
- Speech and Eating – Healthy, properly aligned baby teeth help children learn how to speak clearly and eat a healthy diet.
- Development of Adult Teeth – If the baby teeth are infected by cavities, the permanent teeth may not develop normally.
- Guidance – If the baby teeth have to be extracted earlier than usual because of decay, the permanent teeth can come in extremely crooked or crowded.
- Self-confidence – If your child has missing teeth, they can feel self-conscious or embarrassed about smiling or laughing. That’s no way to go through childhood!
How Common Is Childhood Decay?
Unfortunately, dental decay is the most common childhood disease that goes untreated. According to the CDC, an estimated 1 out of every 5 children aged 2-11 has at least one cavity.
The good news is that cavities are preventable! With regular care from a ‘dentist near me’ and some simple practices at home, cavities can be avoided.
How Can You Establish Good Habits From Early On?
Here are some tips for getting your child off on the right foot:
- Positive reinforcement – This could be something as simple as putting a sticker on the calendar for each day that your child brushes and flosses, then giving them a small prize at the end of the week.
- Use the right tools – In addition to kid-friendly toothbrushes, flossers and toothpaste, there are some great apps that encourage good hygiene habits for kids. Anything that makes it fun is a good thing!
- Fluoride – Fluoride significantly reduces cavities. Talk to your dentist about professional fluoride treatments at every checkup.
- Minimize sugars – Dried fruit, sticky candies, sodas and juice are a few examples of foods and beverages that contribute to cavities. You don’t have to cut them out entirely, but it’s a good idea to keep them to a minimum.
- Consider sealants – The first permanent back teeth come in around the age of six. Sealants can protect these teeth from developing cavities.
Remember, when it comes to your child’s oral health, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
About the Author
Dr. Stephen Scotto-Lavino has been practicing both general and children’s dentistry for over 35 years. He knows that healthy baby teeth set the stage for great oral health throughout life and always takes the time to educate his pediatric patients and their parents on how to achieve that. If you have any questions, he can be reached via his website or at (631) 698-9400.