The short answer is “First visit by first birthday.” That’s the view of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Pediatricians agree. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that children who are at risk of early childhood cavities visit a pediatric dentist by age 1.
The idea of such early dental visits is still surprising to many new parents. However, national studies have shown that preschool-aged children are getting more cavities. More than 1 in 4 children in the United States has had at least one cavity by the age of 4. Many kids get cavities as early as age 2.
But cavities aren’t all that parents need to learn about their child’s dental health. The age 1 dental visit lets parents discuss:
*How to care for an infant’s or toddler’s mouth
*Proper use of fluoride
*Oral habits, including finger and thumb sucking
*Ways to prevent accidents that could damage the face and teeth
*Teething and milestones of development
*The link between diet and oral health
•Begin cleaning your baby’s mouth during the first few days after birth by wiping the gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth. As soon as teeth appear, decay can occur. A baby’s front four teeth usually push through the gums at about 6 months of age, although some children don’t have their first tooth until 12 or 14 months.
•Until you’re comfortable that your child can brush on his or her own, continue to brush your child’s teeth twice a day with a child-size toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. When your child has two teeth that touch, you should begin flossing their teeth daily.
•For children younger than 3 years, caregivers should begin brushing children’s teeth as soon as they begin to come into the mouth by using fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than a smear or the size of a grain of rice. Brush teeth thoroughly twice per day (morning and night) or as directed by a dentist or physician. Supervise children’s brushing to ensure that they use the appropriate amount of toothpaste.
•For children 3 to 6 years of age, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Brush teeth thoroughly twice per day (morning and night) or as directed by a dentist or physician. Supervise children’s brushing and remind them not to swallow the toothpaste.
Fruit juice offers no nutritional benefit to children under age 1 and should not be included in their diet, according to a new policy statement issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics that marks the Academy’s first change in recommendations on fruit juice since 2001.
The policy statement recommendations include:
•Intake of juice should be limited to, at most, 4 ounces daily for toddlers age 1-3. For children age 4-6, fruit juice should be restricted to 4 to 6 ounces daily; and for children ages 7-18, juice intake should be limited to 8 ounces or 1 cup of the recommended 2 to 2 ½ cups of fruit servings per day.
•Toddlers should not be given juice from bottles or easily transportable “sippy cups” that allow them to consume juice easily throughout the day. The excessive exposure of the teeth to carbohydrates can lead to tooth decay, as well. Toddlers should not be given juice at bedtime.
•Children should be encouraged to eat whole fruits and be educated about the benefits of the fruit as compared with juice, which lacks dietary fiber and may contribute to excessive weight gain.
•Human milk or infant formula is sufficient for infants, and low-fat/nonfat milk and water are sufficient for older children.
•Consumption of unpasteurized juice products should be strongly discouraged for children of all ages.
•Children who take specific forms of medication should not be given grapefruit juice, which can interfere with the medication’s effectiveness. In addition, fruit juice is not appropriate in the treatment of dehydration or management of diarrhea.
Multivitamins are an excellent way to help children and adults receive nutrients that their diet lacks. For parents of picky eaters, this can be especially helpful. However, not all vitamins are created equally. Chewable, gummy vitamins are often marketed to children but carry risks to your child’s oral health. Here are three ways gummy vitamins affect your child’s oral health.
1. Gummy Vitamins Stick to Your Child’s Teeth
Like gummy candy, particles of gummy vitamins can easily stick to your child’s teeth. Bacteria that causes decay feeds on sugars and food matters left on your teeth. Because they can be harder to clean by brushing, the risk of developing decay increases. If your child takes a gummy multivitamin, encourage them to brush their teeth thoroughly shortly after consuming one. Our dentist also suggests scheduling your child’s next visit to ensure a professional and thorough cleaning.
2. Gummy Vitamins Contain Sugar
Compared to pills and harder, chewable multivitamins, gummy vitamins generally contain more sugar. Ingredients such as gelatin and sucrose are often found in gummy vitamins. Sugar feeds bacteria that can contribute to tooth decay.
3. Don’t Confuse Them For Candy
Candy contributes to tooth decay because the sticky, sweet, sugary contents cling to teeth, promoting decay. Gummy vitamins are similar because they share several key ingredients with gummy candies. It is vitally important that your child never confuses a multivitamin for a candy. Consuming more vitamins than the suggested amount can lead to serious health complications.
Multivitamins can help balance a diet that does not include key nutrients. While gummy vitamins are often a great way for children to be excited to take a vitamin, consider the risks they pose to your child’s oral health. If your child does regularly take a gummy multivitamin, have them brush their teeth after taking one. Taking a vitamin before brushing your teeth prior to bedtime is one way to ensure your child’s teeth remain clean.
We advise you to consult your child’s pediatrician for information regarding which multivitamin supplements are best for your child. Children should receive at least two dental examinations per year, with additional visits needed for those with a high risk of developing decay or other oral health complications.
To schedule your next visit to our office, please contact our dental team today.