Inside: Four practical ways to stop tooth decay in toddler, plus the symptoms of tooth decay.
The early childhood years are very crucial for a child’s growth since this is the time for important physical growth and development. During these years, various changes occur in your child’s body, especially in their mouth and facial area.
The mouth provides and supports important functions from the time your child is born and throughout his life, which includes breathing, eating, and communication. With that said, it is essential to keep your child’s mouth healthy. A healthy mouth is the foundation of health and well-being.
This post is not intended to address or diagnose any medical conditions. Please see full disclaimer below.
One of the common problems that can make your child’s mouth unhealthy is tooth decay. Early childhood tooth decay affects the teeth of infants and toddlers.
This dental problem occurs if the toddler’s mouth is not cleaned regularly. The acids from the food they eat, such as formula, cows, and breastmilk, can cause decay. As time passes, the acid will eat away the tooth surface which will eventually create holes or cavities in the tooth.
Why is it important to prevent tooth decay in toddlers?
Primary teeth will be replaced by permanent once in no time, so why should tooth decay be a problem? These are the common questions and misconception of parents. As a parent, you have to understand that your toddler’s primary teeth are as important as their permanent teeth.
The importance of primary teeth:
- Allow your child to bite and chew their food.
- Vital for proper speech development.
- Critical for the development of facial bones and muscles.
- Prepare the gums and mouth for permanent teeth and help guide the adult teeth into their proper position.
Symptoms of tooth decay:
- The upper incisors have a white band, along with the gum line.
- Brown spots on the toddler’s teeth.
- The baby’s gums look red and swollen.
- For advanced tooth decay, blackened areas on the tooth surface.
4 Methods to Prevent Tooth Decay
1. Avoid Sugar
The types of food and drinks that your child consumes can also affect the development of tooth decay.
Children 4-6 months:
Typically, newborns only drink breastmilk or formula, but when they are old enough to drink something else, water is the best choice.
Children 6-8 months old:
During this stage, your child is old enough to use a cup for drinking. It’s recommended to avoid giving your baby sweetened milk, or other beverages with added sweeteners. These will only increase the risk of tooth decay.
Children 8 months and above:
Avoid foods that are high in sugar. If your toddler eats something sweet, you must train them to drink a glass of water after eating. Doing so will reduce the amount of acid in their teeth and mouth.
2. Visit the Dentist
Schedule a dentist appointment when your child is around six months to one year of age, or once his first tooth emerges. Early dental visit means getting a better chance of preventing dental problems. Remember that if your child has healthy teeth, he will be able to chew his food easily, learn to speak more quickly and clearly, and develop self-esteem.
3. Use Fluoride
Toddlers need fluoride so that their teeth will grow strong and healthy. The right fluoride can prevent the development of tooth decay when it is used on a regular basis.
4. Healthy Diet
As a parent, you must provide your child with a healthy diet. This means that you must limit the frequency of snacking which can increase the risk of developing tooth decay and cavities. By limiting the amount of time that your toddler snacks throughout the day can significantly lower the chances of tooth decay.
Children can brush their teeth with a toothbrush and water as soon as they have hand-eye coordination. Parents can model and assist in brushing the child’s teeth so they learn how to do so correctly.
So begin dental care for you baby today and consult a dentist when you feel the time is right, but don’t wait too late if you think your baby could have tooth decay.
This piece was written by Jennifer. She is the founder and editor of . On The Mama Needs, she writes about experience with pregnancy, raising kids, and nutrition for both kids and expectant moms. She loves that blogging brings parents together and lets our readers know they’re not the only ones going through these experiences. She loves seeing comments on her posts that say “I thought it was just me! I’m so glad it’s not!” Being a parent is hard, but friends and blogs really help.
Disclaimer: This post is for information purposes only and is not intended to address or diagnose any medical conditions. Please speak with your healthcare provider if you have any specific health questions.
P.S. If you enjoyed this piece, you may also like 10 Ways to Teach Your Toddler Healthy Eating Habits.