Most parents don’t realize that early tooth decay is the single most common
disease among children.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 28% of kids between the ages
of 2 and 5 have cavities – and 50% of first-graders.
The problem is on the rise.
Young children are more susceptible to cavities because their teeth have
thinner, weaker enamel. Plus, there’s more space between their teeth where
food can linger, a prime breeding ground for cavity-causing bacteria.
What can parents can do?
“Prevention is the key,” says Dr. Ryan Roberts. “If we can prevent this
disease from happening, there will be a lot fewer problems to deal with
Here are four major causes of early tooth decay:
1. Loving Moms
Surprisingly, one of the biggest culprits is Mom.
“Mothers can pass on bacteria to their babies by kissing and loving on them.
blowing on their food to cool it off. tasting from the spoon,” says Dr.
Roberts. “Or when the pacifier drops, Mom puts it in her mouth and then back
in the child’s mouth”.
If a mother is susceptible to tooth decay, she can easily spread her
bacteria onto her child.
2. Feeding Routines
To prevent cavities, you need to physically push the bacteria, plaque and
sugar off your child’s teeth and gums. So make cleaning a part of your
normal feeding routine.
Even for infants with no teeth, a child’s mouth should be wiped out after
they’re fed. Take a moistened gauze or washcloth, wrap it around your finger
and gently massage your child’s gums and surrounding tissues.
Once kids start getting teeth, mom or dad should brush them twice a day with
a soft toothbrush and fluoride-containing toothpaste – a smear for children
under 2 and a “pea-size” drop for ages 2 to 5.
3. Baby Bottles and Sippy Cup Dangers
A major cause of tooth decay is frequent, long-term exposure to sugary
liquids such as milk, formula, fruit juice, sodas, and other sweetened
The sugars in these liquids surround the teeth and gums, feeding the
bacteria that cause decay.
“A lot of mothers think they are doing the right thing by giving their child
juice and not sodas,” says Dr. Roberts.
“But when kids sip juice all day, even if it’s diluted with water, they’re
constantly feeding the bacteria that create acid and result in tooth decay.”
Never allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle of milk or juice.
For children ages 1 to 6, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more
than 4 to 6 ounces of juice per day, served in a cup with a meal or snack.
4. What Age to Take Your Child to the Dentist? The Surprising
If you think your child is too young to go to the dentist, think again. Most
parents are shocked to discover the truth:
“By first tooth or first birthday,” says Dr. Roberts.
“The purpose of seeing children that young is to set up preventive measures,
so your child can be free of disease, free of cavities, free of decay. with
healthy habits that will last a lifetime.”