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Today my friend Sarah St. John, who I've known since high school, is giving us the facts about kids' teeth. Not only is she the mother of three beautiful children - Elijah 14, Joseph 11, and Norah 7 - but she's also an expert in dental hygiene.
I began my dental hygiene journey nearly 12 years ago when I
took my oldest child to the dentist for the first time, and I was told he had a
number of cavities. He was a mere 2.5 years old. He loved apple juice. He would drink it by the gallon. Even though I brushed his teeth, I wasn't doing it two times a day, or even daily. It was a devastating blow to my heart, and my ego as a parent.
I didn't spend too much time thinking about tooth decay
before that day. My husband and I never had dental issues of our own. The day I took my baby to the dentist to have his teeth filled was the day that I vowed to learn all I could about tooth decay, and how to prevent it from happening in the future. With that said, I am proud to say, my entire family of five have been cavity free ever since.
I have learned that it is essential to brush your child's
teeth 2 times a day to avoid tooth decay. Once in the morning after breakfast, and again at night before they go to bed, and it is never too early to start this routine. Even though newborns do not have teeth, the early brushing method of the gums gets them used to the routine of having someone or something in their mouth. This will make brushing easier in the later years when they have teeth that need to be brushed.
Proper nutrition is also important. As I mentioned before, my child loved apple
juice. Apple juice like anything else is okay in moderation, but it is acidic and full of sugar. If a child, of any age, drinks a lot of sugary drinks like juice, soda, or sports drinks, they will get tooth decay, no matter how well they brush their teeth. It's inevitable. The sugar and
bacteria in the mouth make an acidic pH that is ideal for tooth decay. It is also important to avoid sugary, sticky foods like candy and fruit chews.
Finally, an early preventative dental check-up, and regular
dental check-ups to follow, is critical. In my experience, most children visit the dentist around 3 years, but my child obviously needed an earlier intervention. I would recommend that a child visit the dentist as soon as they begin to eat or drink foods other than the initial baby foods, and milk. Keeping in mind, the initial visits to the dentist are informal, and centered around making the child comfortable in
Tooth decay is arguably the most common childhood disease,
and it can affect children of any age. Luckily, with proper daily maintenance, it can be prevented.