Every parent and soon-to-be parent seems to be well aware that you shouldn’t brush your baby’s teeth until they are at least two years old – but you can throw that nugget of knowledge out the window, because now dentists are recommending something completely different in terms of baby dental care.
Dentists from the American Dental Association (ADA) are now recommending that parents use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste to brush their baby teeth twice daily as soon as they erupt, going against the old recommendations that parents should wait until the child was at least 24 months, then using a pea-sized amount.
It has been emphasized by dentists that the amount of toothpaste to use be no more than a smear on the brush to minimize the risk of fluorosis (a mild discoloration caused by ingesting an excess of fluoride toothpaste). Once the child is 3 to 6 years old, the amount should be increased to a pea-sized dollop.
The change in dental guidelines was to combat the rising number of cavities in young children. One dentist was quoted as saying that children with dental decay are at greater risk of developing cavities as adults; thus, earlier prevention may effectively reduce the risk of disease for children and for the rest of their lives.
Toothpaste labels currently advise the parents of children under the age of 2 to consult a dentist or physician – however, due to the brevity of the label, the implied message that urges parents to visit the dentist is often not realized, with parents often jumping to the conclusion that fluoride toothpaste should be avoided altogether until the child is at least 24 months old.
It doesn’t stop there: your child, their diet and their teeth
Adding to the problem is the escalated amount of sugar in the modern diet. Dental caries can first start to manifest before babies even move onto solid foods. Parents who bottle feed their baby are warned not to allow children to fall asleep with a bottle in their mouth. The continual sucking during their sleep can cause pools of milk to sit just behind the the back of their lower teeth. The lactose sugars possibly causing decay.
As children get older, parents are warned against allowing tots to graze on sweets throughout the day. When it comes to sugar consumption and your teeth, it’s not really a question of how much but how often. Regularly snacking on sweets will cause far more damage than gorging on them once in a while. Since kids are prone to turning away most foods in favor of their favorite candy bar their cavities are often caused by their high-sugar diets. Munching away on this candy means many children’s teeth are under continual attack and at high risk of dental cavities.
If you’re worried about your child’s dental care, visit your dentist, incorporate fluoride toothpaste into their twice-a-day into their daily routine and fill their lunch box with regular cheese snacks!
US researchers also found that eating cheese after a meal can help neutralize the acids in the mouth, thus decreasing the risk for potential erosion and also helping restore the enamel that is breaking down. They also found that those that enjoyed cheesy treats had 71 per cent less tooth damage than those that didn’t. So it’s definitely a good habit to get children into while they’re still young!