Dental decay is the most common chronic childhood disease in the U.S., and rates are even more prevalent among Alaska Native children. The good news is, with consistent care at home and regular visits to the dentist, cavities in children are almost entirely preventable. Southcentral Foundation recommends the following:
- Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft cloth and water.
- As soon as your child’s teeth erupt, brush them with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- For children under the age of 2, use a small smear of toothpaste. If they’re 2-5 years old, use a pea-size amount of toothpaste.
- Use an American Dental Association-accepted fluoride toothpaste and make sure your child does not swallow it.
- A child’s teeth should be brushed by a parent until the child is old enough to do a good job on his or her own.
- Flossing removes plaque between teeth and under the gumline where a toothbrush can’t reach.
- Flossing should begin when any two teeth touch.
- Be sure to floss your child’s teeth daily until he or she can do it alone.
Good Diet = Healthy Teeth:
Healthy eating habits lead to healthy teeth. Like the rest of the body, the teeth, bones and the soft tissues of the mouth need a well-balanced diet.
Children should eat a variety of foods from the five major food groups. For snacks, choose nutritious foods such as fruits and vegetables, low-fat yogurt and low-fat cheese, which are healthier and better for children’s teeth. Drinks should be exclusively water, milk or unsweetened nut milks. Avoid juice— even 100-percent fruit juice—soda and energy drinks. For more information, visit www.southcentralfoundation.org.