According to The New York Times, cavities in toddlers and preschoolers are on the rise. Moreover, it's not just one cavity here and there; dentists nationwide are reporting an increasing number of preschoolers with six to ten cavities or more. The level of decay present in these children's teeth is also concerning - it is often so severe that dentists have to use general anesthesia to perform the surgical procedure. General anesthesia has its own set of risks, including vomiting, nausea, and, in very rare cases, brain damage or death. Furthermore, some of these same children who undergo surgical procedures end up with more cavities later on. Luckily, there are a few things parents can do to stop this problem in its tracks.
Start Brushing Early
Start brushing your child's teeth twice a day as soon as the first tooth erupts. Use a wet gauze square or your finger to brush to gently brush along the baby's gums. Not only will this keep his newly minted teeth clean, it will also get him used to the idea of brushing his teeth so he'll be less likely to resist it later on.
Take Your Child to the Dentist
The American Dental Association and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend that children should visit the dentist as soon as the first tooth erupts in the mouth, no later than age one or two. During this visit, the dentist will be able to look at your child's mouth, gums, and bite, as well as checking your child's teeth for signs of decay. These early visits will also help your child get used to the idea of the dentist.
Limit Sweet Snacks and Juice
Though almost every food contains some sugar, there are some that have especially high amounts - candy, fruit snacks, and gummies, for example - which you should limit in your child's diet. You should also be careful about your child's juice intake for similar reasons. Many parents pacify their kids by letting them have a sippy cup full of juice - try choosing water instead. In addition, you shouldn't let your child fall asleep with a bottle; milk pooling in the mouth is one of the most common causes of cavities in toddlers.
Make Sure Your Child Gets Enough Fluoride
With an increased number of parents relying on bottled water, many kids aren't getting enough fluoride from tap water. Talk to your doctor or dentist to see if your child needs a fluoride supplement.