Tips to help your child build strong teeth
GEHA | February 15, 2022
As adults, we know it’s important to keep our teeth and gums healthy because poor dental health can lead to other problems with our health. It’s just as important for our children.
Cavities are one of the most common diseases of childhood, yet cavities are preventable. Untreated cavities can cause pain and infections. They can also lead to problems eating, speaking and learning.
Here’s how to protect and maintain your child’s teeth:
- For babies, wipe their gums after each meal and avoid putting them to bed with a bottle.
- When teeth come in, start brushing twice a day with a soft bristled toothbrush and plain water.
- Visit the dentist around your baby’s first birthday to spot signs of problems early. When children are ages 3 and older, they should visit the dentist twice a year.
- Children ages 2 and older should brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. They should not swallow toothpaste. Help your children brush until they have good brushing skills.
Your child’s diet is also important for developing and maintaining strong and healthy teeth. Include good sources of calcium such as yogurt, broccoli and milk. Choose fruits and vegetables for snacks instead of candy and cookies and serve water or milk at mealtime rather than juice or soda.
What about fluoride in water? Fluoride is a naturally occurring element in water. Communities adjust the amount of fluoride found in water to achieve the best prevention for tooth decay. Mouth bacteria produces acid, which eats away minerals from the tooth’s surface. This makes the tooth weaker and increases the chance of getting a cavity. Drinking tap water with fluoride rebuilds the tooth’s surface.
Dental sealants are also effective in preventing cavities in children ages 6 to 11. Sealants are thin coatings put on the back teeth to help block out germs and food. Talk to your dentist about sealants for your children.
“Children’s Dental Health.” cdc.gov, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21 January 2022. “Children’s Oral Health.” cdc.gov, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21 April 2021.