As your Burlingame family dentist, our team strives to help provide parents with the latest and most up-to-date information regarding the best practices for protecting their children’s oral health. Practicing quality oral care at a young age will help protect a child’s oral health and ensure his or her oral development progresses at the correct rate.
The American Dental Association has recently changed its recommendations to now include that parents use toothpaste containing fluoride while brushing their child’s teeth as soon as they emerge. Tooth decay ranks as the most common chronic childhood disease in the U.S. Each year, over 16 million kids in the U.S. suffer from untreated tooth decay, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the number of children who develop cavities continues to rise, new advice is being provided to parents and caregivers about the best practices for protecting kids’ oral health.
Additional Fluoride Provides Protection
The ADA’s Council on Scientific Affairs (CSA) has updated its dental care guidelines for parents and caregivers. While it was once recommended to only use water or a toothpaste without fluoride to clean the teeth of infants and toddlers, the new guidelines now recommend the use of fluoride toothpaste even for young children, saying that parents should start brushing their kids’ teeth with fluoride toothpaste as soon as the first tooth emerges.
“Approximately 25 percent of children have or had cavities before entering kindergarten, so it’s important to provide guidance to caregivers on the appropriate use of fluoride toothpaste to help prevent their children from developing cavities,” wrote the CSA.
The CSA recommends parents and caregivers use a small amount of toothpaste – roughly the size of a rice grain – for children under the age of three and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste for kids between the ages of three to six. The updated guidelines are intended to provide children with the benefit fluoride offers to their oral health while also limiting their risk of fluorosis, a condition that causes mild tooth discoloration. The CSA discovered that using a single “smear” of toothpaste for kids under three and a pea-sized amount for kids between three to six helps to lower the risk of cavities while not causing fluorosis. Despite being risk-free, parents should still encourage their kids to spit out the toothpaste once old enough to do so.
The CSA also recommends that parents schedule their child’s first dental appointment shortly after the first tooth erupts or no later than a child’s first birthday. Following a child’s first visit, annual or semiannual visits should be planned as determined by your Burlingame family dentist.
Oral Health Important at Any Age
While it may seem easy to dismiss the importance of a child’s baby teeth since they will eventually fall out, they play a vital role in ensuring the normal development of a child’s oral health. Baby teeth act as space holders that work to guide permanent teeth into the correct position. When baby teeth fall out prematurely, permanent teeth can develop crooked, crowded, or misaligned.
Untreated tooth decay caused by cavities can represent additional problems for a child’s oral and overall health. Tooth decay can cause an infection that can spread to other areas of the body, such as the brain. This type of infection can prove fatal is untreated. Untreated tooth decay can also cause pain and discomfort for a child that could led to eating problems and the development of a speech impediment.
No matter how you look at it, your child’s oral health is just as important to his or her development as any other part of the growth cycle. Ensuring your child enjoys the best oral health possible will go a long way to towards ensuring a healthy and happy child now and into the future.