Early Tooth Decay Is Preventable.
Early Childhood Tooth Decay (ECTD) remains high in Grey Bruce. As many as 15% of children under age four suffer with this disease, which is the rapid decaying of infants’ front top teeth. Children who fall asleep with a bottle or while nursing are at greater risk for ECTD. This happens because the flow of saliva decreases during sleep and sugars pool around the teeth, rather than being washed away. Children given “sipping drinks” throughout the day (other than water) are also candidates for ECTD.
ECTD is painful for children; it limits the foods that they can learn to enjoy without feeling pain and it hinders various aspects of children’s development. To help children be healthy, happy and confident, parents are encouraged to regularly check and clean children’s teeth once their first tooth appears. A soft-bristled infant toothbrush or a clean washcloth work best. A mouth mirror allows parents to check the backs of the front teeth too.
By watching for signs of decay along the top of the upper front teeth (chalky white, or brown spots), a parent can get the child to a dentist early and hopefully avoid the extensive dental surgery that ECTD patients often undergo.
During the summer, parents are encouraged to give their children more fluids to prevent dehydration. Water is the best choice to prevent tooth decay.
Milk, juices, and sweets are best served at mealtimes. This is a good habit because saliva flow increases as people chew and the sugars in these products are more likely to be washed away from the teeth.
Early Childhood Tooth Decay is preventable. Everyone can help reduce the chances of children having to suffer with this disease by helping parents and/or caregivers know the importance of establishing good dental health habits early for children. For further information call Grey Bruce Health Unit at 376-9420 or 1-800-263-346, or visit www.publichealthgreybruce.on.ca.
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