Dental Don’ts For Children
Being a parent is no easy task especially for those working to ensure the future dental health of their children. While some parents may think it is okay to pay minimal attention to baby teeth as they will eventually fall out and be replaced by permanent teeth, nothing is further from the truth as tooth decay and cavities can happen to anyone at any age.
Baby teeth start to erupt during the first 4 to 10 months of life. By the time a child reaches their first birthday having six to eight teeth is the norm and when the terrible twos hit, the average kid will have a smile filled with approximately 20 teeth. Taking care of milk teeth is essential from the get-go as the National Center for Health Statistics indicated that nearly 20 percent of children aged 2 to 5 have untreated cavities (Health, United States, 2009 With Special Feature on Medical Technology. Hyattsville, MD). The chronic infectious disease can cause a myriad of issues including toothaches (resulting in missed school days), development problems, malnutrition and low self-esteem.
Because children are especially vulnerable to dental problems, caregivers need to be vigilant in teaching their children about oral hygiene and ensuring that brushing, flossing and regular dental visits are part of the process. In addition to those behaviors, adults must make sure that they implement a strategy of “dental don’ts” for the well being of the younger generation.
Don’t Give Kids Performance Drinks
Energy drinks have a history dating back to 1929 England, but the product market really started to take off when Gatorade was first introduced as a sports drink in the 1960s. Since that time the consumer marketplace has become flooded with a large assortment of performance enhancement beverages and although they may be viable options for adults, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that the products may actually be harmful to children’s teeth and general wellness.
Sports drinks contain ingredients such as electrolytes that have specifically designed to help athletes rehydrate after enduring their physical challenges. Energy drinks contain stimulants to give a bit of a perk. Regardless of the type of performance drink, they both contain additives including caffeine that can be harmful to children.
Caffeine is a powerful stimulant and some energy drinks contain the equivalent of 14 cans of soda. While that amount may be a challenge for most adults to manage, the ingredient may negatively impact “…developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems” in kids (http://www.ada.org/news/5970.aspx). Additionally caffeine can cause a child to expel too much energy and tooth grinding (AKA bruxism) and tooth clenching can be an unfortunate result. Those conditions will cause unnecessary wear and tear and teeth and make a child especially vulnerable to tooth decay, tooth erosion and tooth enamel deconstruction.
Instead of those types of drinks, drinking clean, fresh water is a smarter move.
Don’t Give Your Kid Sugar
There is no denying that candy does indeed taste dandy, but the average American child is sweet enough already thanks to the amount of sugar added to the processed foods they more than likely consume. Sugar can cause conditions such as obesity and diabetes that contribute to dental problems. Since the substance is the favorite food of oral bacteria, sugar can also up the chances of your child suffering from dental erosion and cavities.
Instead, caregivers should make sure to feed their children fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fresh water and a diet following the recommendations outlined on the Government’s new nutrition plate. The dental health of children is based on the old adage of “you are what you eat.”
Don’t Give Your Kid Too Much Fluoride
Fluoride has long been proven to reduce the chances of developing cavities, but when it comes to this compound, too much of it can damage the appearance of your child’s smile. Too much fluoride can cause a condition called fluorosis, which “…can occur as skeletal fluorosis, where bones become weak and brittle, or dental fluorosis, where a child’s permanent tooth comes out discolored,” (0900-DENTIST).
In order to minimize the risk of a child developing fluorosis, caregivers must first check to see if their public water has been treated with the additive. Odds are in the favour of yes, since 75 percent of all Americans have access to community water supplies with the additive. Only a check with the local department of water can let a person know for sure.
Once the condition of the water has been determined, parents should consult their kids’ dentist to develop a course of action. While brushing with fluoride toothpaste and getting fluoride dental treatments can provide a much needed boost for children not drinking fluoridated water, a dentist may recommend removing any one of the sources to better balance out the equation.