It is never too early to begin good dental care with your children. Even babies can benefit from healthy care of their tiny teeth. One major problem is “baby bottle tooth decay”, the harmful practice of putting your baby to bed with a sweetened fluid in his bottle. Milk, juices, and soft drinks may comfort your child in bed, but their presence is very harmful to the child’s temporary teeth. The sugar in these substances becomes a feeding-ground for nasty bacteria that produces acids which in turn attack the gums and teeth and initiate the decaying process.
For good dental care put only water in the nap or night bottle. After every feeding, gently wipe your baby’s gums and teeth with a wet cloth or piece of gauze. This will clean away harmful plaque-forming bacteria. Also, never give a baby a pacifier dipped in honey or any other sugary substances. The same build-up of bacteria will occur, and unfortunately this bacteria will encourage the growth of more virulent bacteria that is bent on attacking your innocent child’s teeth and gums.
Many parents wonder if good dental care is even an issue with a child’s temporary teeth. The answer is absolutely! and for many reasons. A mouth full of healthy teeth helps the child learn to speak correctly. It improves self-esteem and confidence. We all know that children can be cruel, and a child with noticeably unattractive teeth or bad breath caused by poor oral hygiene, will definitely be the butt of teasing. Those little baby teeth act as spacers for the adult teeth to come. Studies show that children with healthy teeth have better overall health and weight gain. As a child gets used to proper dental care, it becomes a normal habit to take care of his teeth. This lays the groundwork for a lifetime of good dental practices.
As parents, it is up to you to care about what’s going on in your child’s mouth. There really is such a thing as childhood periodontal disease, and it can affect the health of the permanent teeth coming in behind. You need to teach your child how to brush his teeth faithfully and supervise him when he does it. By age nine or ten, he can probably be trusted to take care of this responsibility on his own. Years of instilling good habits for proper dental care will begin to really pay off. Whether you live in a high-rise in a city like Denver or in the rural countryside of Maine, take good care of your child’s teeth, and he will thank you for it later.