Sugar Wars… Combatting Tooth Decay In Children

Each February, the American Dental Association sponsors National Children’s Dental Health Month. Birmingham, AL Dentists Dr. Bruce Spink and Dr. Barbara Anderson would like to take this opportunity to join them in promoting awareness about the benefits of good oral health- especially in children. This year’s theme is “Sugar Wars”: combatting tooth decay with healthier nutritional choices and good oral hygiene.

Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic diseases in children and children miss 51 million hours of school every year because of oral health issues. Oral health issues and tooth decay are often almost entirely preventable with routine dental care and good oral hygiene habits. Laying the foundation for a lifetime of good dental health begins with early visits to the dentist.

Keeping Your Child’s Smile Healthy Is Important

A child should see a dentist no later than their third birthday- even earlier is ok too. Until a child can brush on their own teeth, a parent or caregiver should brush their teeth with them twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.

Most children stop sucking their thumb or a pacifier by age 4. However, if you child continues this habit after the permanent teeth come in, it can cause problems with tooth alignment and the bite. Discuss this with Drs. Spink and Anderson during your routine visits with your child for personalized recommendations on helping them stop thumb sucking.

Putting a child to bed with a sippy cup or baby bottle can also cause tooth decay. Milk, formula, juices, and other sweet drinks will sit in the mouth all night and harm the teeth. Children should try to avoid sugary drinks and foods as much as possible. Fruits and vegetables are better for the teeth than candy and cookies.

In addition to keeping the teeth and mouth healthy, starting children off with routine dental care will help them establish lasting good habits for themselves. During your first visit, Drs. Spink and Anderson will walk you and your child through caring for their teeth and gums, including how to effectively brush and floss. We will also discuss the benefits of a healthy diet and other means of cavity prevention.

Contact our Birmingham, AL family dentist office to schedule a checkup for your child and begin a lifetime of healthy oral habits.