ALPHARETTA, GA – Cavities are contagious? Believe it, or not, they are. In fact, the better your own dental hygiene, the better off your kid’s teeth will be, too. As a parent, we unknowingly pass bacteria on to our children by sharing drinks, food, eating utensils, and even kisses with them. This is not to say we shouldn’t kiss our children at every opportunity we get, but we need to make sure we are not passing harmful bacteria on to them that can and will cause them to have cavities.
Babies are born without the presence of harmful bacteria in their mouths, but this soon changes once they begin developing teeth. Families unknowingly pass on certain disease-carrying germs called Dental Caries, and unfortunately, this can cause problems that last a lifetime for some. Cavities are also formed by another bacteria, mutans streptococcus, that feeds on sugar which will eventually lead to plaque and tooth decay.
Once plaque begins to set in, tooth decay is quick to follow. More and more children are developing cavities these days at an alarming rate for numerous reasons. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Association (AAPD), approximately 40 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 5 years old, have cavities. This is startling news, but the good news is, cavities in children can easily be prevented. Asking your kid’s dentist what to do is the best place to start.
Here are the best ways to prevent bacteria from spreading to your baby’s mouth and causing cavities:
Keep Your Hands to Yourselves!
Children’s hands naturally gravitate toward their mouths and to everything around them, such as your mouth, their sibling’s mouths, a play pal, or a relative, where germs are passed back and forth in an unending cycle. When it comes to dental hygiene, sharing is not necessarily caring. Teach your child to be cautious about what food and drinks they’re sharing with friends. Make it a habit to wash hands after playing and eating to keep germs at bay.
Brush the Bacteria Away
The best way to help prevent cavities in children is to begin proper dental hygiene even before their first tooth comes in by gently wiping their gums with a clean cloth after each feeding or meal to help prevent the growth of bacteria and plaque.
When their teeth begin to come in, it’s as simple as wiping their teeth with gauze or a clean cloth after meals. When they become old enough to communicate with you at about 3 years old or so, you can begin teaching them how to use a toothbrush and a very small amount of toothpaste.
It is not generally recommended to allow children to use toothpaste until they can be taught not to swallow the toothpaste, and to spit it out during brushing. However, you can start them off with a toothbrush specially made for children, and by just using water in place of toothpaste until they can learn not to swallow it. If in doubt, you can always ask your kid’s dentist about proper pediatric dental procedures and ages for beginning tooth brushing. Teaching children to care for their teeth early on will help to prevent bacteria from growing in order to prevent unwanted cavities.
Visit the Dentist Regularly
A good rule is to find a pediatric dentist early on when your child approaches the one-year-old mark, and start getting your child acclimated to routine pediatric dental procedures such as examinations and office visits with a pediatric dentist and their staff. Pediatric dental facilities such as Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry in Alpharetta, Georgia, are professionals at making babies and young children feel comfortable and relaxed.
Your dentist will be sure to inform you that pediatric oral hygiene begins by caring for your kid’s teeth and gums as you would your own. Take time to clean their gums, or brush their teeth at least twice a day; limiting sugary snacks and eating healthy foods will help to cut down on the growth of plaque and cavities in children.
As tempting as it is, try not to share drinking cups, eating utensils or toothbrushes with children; each should have their own. By practicing proper oral hygiene yourself, and by teaching the rest of your family to participate as well, will ensure your baby’s teeth get off to a good start, early on in life.