The CDC reports that tooth decay is the most common disease in children. More than 40% of children have cavities by the time they reach kindergarten. While the cavity rate in children of older age groups has been slowly declining, the rise in cavities among those under 5 is actually increasing. Unfortunately parents often wait too long to begin caring for emerging teeth. Here are six essential tips to get you started on the right path:
- Toothpaste isn’t really needed before teeth emerge, but a soft wet washcloth gently wiped over gums twice a day is a great way to keep bacteria at bay and keep the gums healthy.
- Make oral care a part of a daily routine. Getting into the habit early will increase the likely-hood that you (and eventually your child) will keep up this healthy practice once teeth appear.
- When the first teeth start to show up (usually around 6 months, but this can vary greatly from child to child), use a toothbrush specifically designed for babies. These brushes have smaller heads for smaller mouths and very soft bristles to avoid damaging sensitive gums.
- Use only a pea sized amount of toothpaste. Young children have trouble not swallowing toothpaste, so keep the amount minimal and consider using fluoride free toothpaste until your child has learned not to swallow when brushing.
- Brush your child’s teeth until he or she is able to hold the brush.
- Be aware of the signs of baby tooth decay (spots or pits on teeth) and stay up to date on dental exams.