Ignorance Not Blissful for Your Children’s Oral Health

“What you don’t know won’t hurt you” is a popular idiom that couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to personal health. In fact, parents’ lack of knowledge about certain common at-home habits could jeopardize their children’s oral health.

For instance, nearly half of American children under age 3 have never seen the dentist, according to the 2013 Delta Dental Children’s Oral Health Survey.1 What many parents don’t realize is the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child go to the dentist by age 1 or within six months after their first tooth erupts.2

Parents should take children to the dentist by age 1 to establish a trusting relationship with the dentist and receive critical oral health care advice. Studies show that early preventive dental care can save in future dental treatment costs.

Fill bottles with water, not juice or milk
Nearly 50 percent of caregivers with a child 4 years old or younger report that the child sometimes takes a nap or goes to bed with a bottle or sippy cup containing milk or juice. This bad habit can lead to early childhood (baby bottle) tooth decay.

Ideally, children should finish a bottle before they are put down to sleep. But if they must have something to comfort them while they go to sleep, fill a bottle with water. Don’t get in the habit of providing sweet drinks because you think it will please your child.  Of course, most children do like sweets, but babies and toddlers want the soothing, repetitive action of sucking on a bottle more than sweetened drinks.

Avoid sharing food and utensils with children
Did you know that caregivers can actually pass harmful bacteria from their mouth to a child’s mouth, which can put the child at an increased risk for cavities? Bacteria are passed when items contaminated with saliva go into a child’s mouth. Typically, this takes place through natural, parental behaviors, such as sharing eating utensils or cleaning off your baby’s pacifier with your mouth. Parents with a history of poor oral health are particularly likely to pass germs along.

However, three out of every four caregivers say they share utensils such as a spoon, fork or glass with a child. Caregivers of children ages 2 to 3 are most likely to share utensils with their children.

For additional tips to help keep children’s teeth healthy during National Smile Month and all year long, visit www.oralhealth.deltadental.com.

Morpace Inc. conducted the 2013 Delta Dental Children’s Oral Health Survey. Interviews were conducted nationally via the Internet with 926 primary caregivers of children from birth to age 11. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of error is ±3.2 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

2 American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry – Policy on the Dental Home. http://www.aapd.org/media/Policies_Guidelines/P_DentalHome.pdf

9 thoughts on “Ignorance Not Blissful for Your Children’s Oral Health

  1. Some important tips there. Too many parents think that fruit juices and smoothies are a wonderfully healthy alternative to soda, without realising that they’re constantly bombaring their kids teeth with acid and sugar and exposing them to decay! In fact, it’s a big problem for plenty of adults too.

  2. Really awesome post !
    Well said that children’s oral health should not be ignored. Regular oral health check –up should be done in order to maintain their good oral health. The best time for infants to go to the dentist for the first time is at the age of six months, when they actually start sucking their thumb because of gum irritation. The various preventive measures mentioned in your post was good to know and should be strictly followed by the parents if they really want healthy oral health for their children.

    I would love to see your similar kind of posts again in future.

  3. Here in the UK children are seen by the dentist for free through our National Health Service. This does mean however mean that the idea of building a trusting relationship rarely happens as the dentists are often overworked and will move around practices.

    Take a 1 year old there and you would be greeted with a “come back when they have a full set of teeth”, usually about 2 years old. Unless of course you go private and they would be delighted to see you from birth, but that’s another story.

  4. Adding a little novelty to brushing can encourage kids to brush more often. An interesting design or an electric toothbrush for kids might be able to do the trick. :)

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