What? My baby has a cavity!?!

Surprisingly, parents find themselves crying these words too often. Though it seems obvious, many parents don’t take the time to stop and seriously consider that baby teeth and gums are susceptible to the same plaque and tartar that affect adult teeth. This reality becomes lost in the fog of activity and sleep deprivation that comes with having children. Thankfully, saving your child from painful dental procedures and long-term damage to their permanent teeth requires just a few simple routines and the avoidance of a few common pitfalls.

So, what is the primary cause of cavities in children? Exhaustion. Exhaustion of the parent, that is, not the child. The demands of parenting are intense, so it’s easy to start looking for the easy way out: “I’ll just put the baby to bed with her bottle so I can sleep.” “The boy likes juice, and he needs calories anyway, so I’ll let him drink from his sippy cup all day.” “I desperately need quiet, so I’ll dip the baby’s pacifier in grape juice so he’ll take it and stop crying.” All of these result in sugary liquids contacting your child’s teeth over long periods of time, and the cavities follow directly.

Instead, restrict sugary liquids like juice to meal times and avoid soda all together. The bottle should be for milk and milk alone—no sugary liquids. Wipe your baby’s gums with a clean cloth at night and start brushing with water as soon as that first tooth appears. Put water in your children’s’ sippy cups when they are drinking, and try to get them to use a regular cup by age one. Work to build these good habits as soon as possible, and secure the health of your children’s’ teeth for a lifetime.

 

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