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Mistakes parents make with their children's dental health

Brushing and flossing, along with healthy food choices and regular dental care are recognized practices for cavity prevention. Looking at statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, we quickly see that parents have a bit of work to do when it comes to helping their children avoid these potentially painful little problems. The organization reports that 42 percent of children between 2 and 11 years old have been treated for cavities in baby teeth. Of those aged 6 to 11, 21 percent have been treated for cavities in permanent teeth. Discover some of the common mistakes that parents make in handling their children's oral health.

1. Bottles in bed

In a survey by the Canadian Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, 85 percent of parents polled stated that putting baby to bed with his or her bottle of juice or milk was a bad idea. The surprising statistic that followed was the 20 percent of those polled did this anyway. Experts are very clear in their belief that there is no faster way to cause tooth decay than to let your baby go to sleep with a bottle of any sugary beverage. If a bottle or sippy cup must be provided, it should contain only water if teeth are to be protected.

2. Unsupervised oral care

Until a child is about 8 years old, he, or she lacks the essential physical skills to handle the task of brushing and flossing efficiently. Until that time, parents should supervise oral hygiene and follow up, checking teeth carefully for signs of debris and plaque. It's not that kids have a lazy attitude towards taking care of their teeth, they simply aren't physically capable.

3. Putting off dental care

There are several reasons that the Canadian Academy of Pediatric Dentistry encourages dental care for children by their first birthday. Many procedures involving general anesthesia are performed on children aged 2 to 3 in order to treat cavities and infection.

Children who begin seeing the dentist early and who obtain routine care every six months are not only set up for better oral health but are also more comfortable seeing the dentist.

4. Skipping the fluoride

Fluoride is a controversial topic. However, clinical evidence shows that the use of fluoride toothpaste is one of the best ways to prevent cavities. The American Dental Association recommends fluoride toothpaste for children of all ages, even those under the age of two. The amount needed to gain protection is very small. Up to the age of three, children need only about as much as a grain of rice. From three to six years of age, a pea-sized dollop of fluoride toothpaste is sufficient and safe. Parents concerned about fluoride may obtain information and discuss preventive treatment options with their dentist.

5. Not questioning "healthy" foods

Foods like bananas, raisons, and whole-grain crackers may look like healthy snack options and in many ways they are. "Healthy" foods can also be an issue depending on how sticky they are or how much sugar they contain. To protect teeth from sugar residue, these types of food are best consumed as a part of a meal, during which there is more saliva present to wash away debris.

6. Being fooled by healthier drinks

Many children regularly consume sports drinks instead of water. These beverages, like soda, stand in the way of the mouth's ability to regain a healthy pH balance. This is due to their high acidity. Teeth that are literally bathed in acid from soda and sports drinks are weakened and more prone to cavities.

7. "Cavities aren't that big a deal"

Cavities are a very common problem that we are sure children themselves would prefer not to have. Whether it is in a baby tooth or in a permanent tooth, a cavity can be a very big deal. All teeth are important. Baby teeth act as placeholders for permanent teeth and facilitate the healthy development of the jaw. Teeth are also pivotal to the development of speech and to self-esteem. If not treated, cavities become infections that cause children a great deal of discomfort.
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