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Mistakes parents make with their children's dental health

Brushing and flossing, along with healthy food choices and regular dental care are recognized practices for cavity prevention. Looking at statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, we quickly see that parents have a bit of work to do when it comes to helping their children avoid these potentially painful little problems. The organization reports that 42 percent of children between 2 and 11 years old have been treated for cavities in baby teeth. Of those aged 6 to 11, 21 percent have been treated for cavities in permanent teeth. Discover some of the common mistakes that parents make in handling their children's oral health.

1. Bottles in bed

In a survey by the Canadian Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, 85 percent of parents polled stated that putting baby to bed with his or her bottle of juice or milk was a bad idea. The surprising statistic that followed was the 20 percent of those polled did this anyway. Experts are very clear in their belief that there is no faster way to cause tooth decay than to let your baby go to sleep with a bottle of any sugary beverage. If a bottle or sippy cup must be provided, it should contain only water if teeth are to be protected.

2. Unsupervised oral care

Until a child is about 8 years old, he, or she lacks the essential physical skills to handle the task of brushing and flossing efficiently. Until that time, parents should supervise oral hygiene and follow up, checking teeth carefully for signs of debris and plaque. It's not that kids have a lazy attitude towards taking care of their teeth, they simply aren't physically capable.

3. Putting off dental care

There are several reasons that the Canadian Academy of Pediatric Dentistry encourages dental care for children by their first birthday. Many procedures involving general anesthesia are performed on children aged 2 to 3 in order to treat cavities and infection.

Children who begin seeing the dentist early and who obtain routine care every six months are not only set up for better oral health but are also more comfortable seeing the dentist.

4. Skipping the fluoride

Fluoride is a controversial topic. However, clinical evidence shows that the use of fluoride toothpaste is one of the best ways to prevent cavities. The American Dental Association recommends fluoride toothpaste for children of all ages, even those under the age of two. The amount needed to gain protection is very small. Up to the age of three, children need only about as much as a grain of rice. From three to six years of age, a pea-sized dollop of fluoride toothpaste is sufficient and safe. Parents concerned about fluoride may obtain information and discuss preventive treatment options with their dentist.

5. Not questioning "healthy" foods

Foods like bananas, raisons, and whole-grain crackers may look like healthy snack options and in many ways they are. "Healthy" foods can also be an issue depending on how sticky they are or how much sugar they contain. To protect teeth from sugar residue, these types of food are best consumed as a part of a meal, during which there is more saliva present to wash away debris.

Mistakes parents want to avoid with their children's oral health

Parents have so many things to think about as they guide the development of their children! One of the most significant, but often forgotten aspects of health is oral care. According to the Centers for Disease Control, cavities remain one of the most prevalent of all childhood diseases, affecting a whopping 42 percent of baby teeth in children aged 2 to 11. In the 6 to 11 age group, 21 percent of children develop cavities in permanent teeth. Clearly, these numbers do not reflect indifference on the part of parents, but rather a lack of understanding on how to avoid common mistakes.

Milk in the bottle

Fluids like milk or juice given to a baby before a nap or bedtime leave sugar in the mouth, and sugar feeds bacteria. This habit is one of the quickest ways to develop a cavity. If giving your baby or toddler a beverage at nap time, offer water in the bottle or sippy cup.

Snacking

In some cases, well-meaning parents may be increasing their child's risk for cavities by providing soft, chewy foods like bananas. Though good for the body in many ways, foods such as raisins and bananas, which contain natural sugar, are better included in meals. This allows other foods and saliva to wash away sugar residue.

Brushing habits

According to experts, a child lacks the motor skills to perform oral hygiene tasks efficiently until the age of eight. This means that parents need to remain vigilant about assessing their children's work and supervising their oral hygiene on a daily basis in order to prevent cavities.

Professional care

Dentists encourage parents to schedule dental care for children early and often. Many children aged 2 to 3 are treated for late-stage decay and painful infection due to their late start in professional dental care. Younger patients with this degree of damage often need to be treated under general anesthesia. Cavities and infection can be avoided with routine care and excellent oral hygiene at home! Research shows that children who begin seeing their dentist no later than one year of age are more comfortable receiving the care that protects their smiles.

Fluoride

Fluoride is a controversial topic. However, clinical evidence shows that the use of fluoride toothpaste is one of the most effective ways to prevent cavities. The American Dental Association recommends fluoride toothpaste for children of all ages, even those under the age of two. The amount needed to gain protection is very small. Up to the age of three, children need only about as much as a grain of rice. From three to six years of age, a pea-sized dollop of fluoride toothpaste is sufficient and safe. Parents concerned about fluoride may obtain information and discuss preventive treatment options with their dentist.

Foods like bananas, raisins, and whole-grain crackers may look like healthy snack options and in many ways, they are. "Healthy" foods can also be an issue depending on how sticky they are or how much sugar they contain. To protect teeth from sugar residue, these types of food are ideally consumed as a part of a meal, during which there is more saliva present to wash away debris.

Beverages

Kids who regularly consume popular beverages like soda and sports drinks are at a disadvantage when it comes to cavity prevention. Both beverages are very acidic and have the power to weaken enamel very quickly. When consumption of soda or sports drinks is not followed by brushing or rinsing it becomes very difficult for the mouth to regain balance between acidity and alkalinity, setting the stage for ongoing dental problems.

The biggest mistake of all . . .

Perhaps the biggest mistake that parents make when it comes to their children's oral health is to believe that cavities aren't a big deal. Baby teeth not only help a young child chew and speak but they are pivotal in a child's overall sense of confidence and wellbeing. Pain and obvious dental problems in baby teeth or permanent teeth can cause a child immense emotional distress as well as future problems with permanent teeth due to poor development.

Cavities do not go away. A cavity left alone will turn into infection and the child will often require sedation in order to be properly treated.

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