As you spend hours enjoying your baby’s toothless grin, their oral hygiene is the last thing on your mind. However, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “one out of ten two-year-olds already have at least one cavity and by age five, nearly 50 percent of children have one or more cavities.”
Reading statistics like those can be frightening but reading false statistics is down right scary. Here we share and debunk some common myths about child dental care.
MYTH: Babies can’t get cavities.
FACT: According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, sugar isn’t the main culprit when it comes to cavities in babies, it’s saliva.
Cavities are caused by germs that can be passed from adult to child. This means you are transferring your cavity causing germs to your child before they have a single tooth. Shared spoons or food you’ve tested before giving it to your baby spread germs which host bacteria that causes caries – the disease that leads to cavities.
Use clean water to wash off your baby’s pacifier instead of your mouth and get to flossing!
MYTH: You don’t need to worry about your baby’s oral hygiene until they get their first tooth.
FACT: The American Dental Association recommends you begin cleaning your baby’s mouth during the first few days after birth. Use a soft, clean washcloth or gauze pad and gently wipe your child’s gums. Not only will this help prevent the buildup of sugars found in both formula and breastmilk, it will condition your baby to oral hygiene practices.
MYTH: You don’t have to take care of your child’s baby teeth since they are not the permanent ones.
TRUTH: Your child’s baby teeth are the foundation of a healthy smile. They help your child learn to speak and chew properly. And hold space in the jaw for the permanent teeth that are developing.
In order to take care of your child’s baby teeth, it is recommended that as soon as your child’s first tooth comes in you begin to help them brush their teeth – or tooth. Use a child-sized, soft bristle toothbrush with just a small amount of fluoride toothpaste (the size of a grain of rice).
MYTH: Your child doesn’t need to go to the dentist until they lose their baby teeth.
FACT: Most children get their first tooth around six months old, and that is when you should take them to the dentist for the first time. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a child has his or her first visit to a dentist no later than their first birthday. Your dentist will check for cavities as well as answer any questions or concerns you have about oral hygiene or issues like thumb sucking.
Just like you have a regular pediatrician, a regular dentist and an orthodontist is an important part of your child’s healthcare team and will help your child maintain that adorable smile you loved even before it included teeth.