Good Diet = Healthy Teeth
Healthy eating habits promote overall good health including oral health. Teeth, bones and the soft tissues of the mouth need a well-balanced diet. Dr. Espinosa recommends a colorful, whole food diet. Liquids should be limited to water throughout the day and milk only at breakfast and dinner meals when toothbrushing will occur after. Most processed snacks that children eat can lead to cavity formation, such as crackers, bars, and dried fruits. The more frequently a child snacks, the greater the chance for tooth decay. How long food remains in the mouth also plays a role. For example, hard candy and sticky foods stay in the mouth a long time, which cause longer acid attacks on tooth enamel. If your child must snack, choose nutritious foods such as vegetables, cheese, whole fruits, meats, and nuts which are healthier and better for children’s teeth.
- Starting at birth, clean your child’s gum pads and arches with a soft cloth and water.
- As soon as your child’s teeth erupt, brush them with a soft-bristled toothbrush or finger brush.
- If they are under the age of 2, use a “smear” amount of toothpaste, similar to the size of a grain of rice.
- If they’re 2-5 years old, use a “pea-size” amount of toothpaste, and start practicing spitting with them.
- Fluoride toothpaste is recommended as soon as the first teeth erupt, especially in areas where the public water is non-fluoridated.
- An adult should brush the child’s teeth or monitor their toothbrushing until the age of 8 or until Dr. Espinosa determines they have a low cavity risk or can do it well on their own.
- Flossing removes plaque between teeth and under the gum line where a toothbrush can’t reach. This helps prevent gingivitis and dental cavities.
- Flossing should begin when any two teeth touch.
- Be sure and floss your child’s teeth daily until he or she can do it alone.
- Floss picks can be an easier way for children to learn how to floss.
How Do I Prevent Cavities?
Good oral hygiene removes bacteria and the leftover food particles that when combined create cavities. For infants, use a wet gauze or clean washcloth to wipe the plaque from teeth and gums after bottle feeding, breastfeeding, and meals. Avoid putting your child to bed with a bottle filled with anything other than water or breastfeeding throughout the night. Brush teeth at least twice a day, specifically after breakfast and before bed. Also, watch the number of snacks containing sugar that you give your children.
Dr. Espinosa recommends reading food labels as many foods contain hidden sugars or you may not realize how many sugars are in the food product. For example apple juice has just as much or more sugar as a soda. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends regular dental visits twice a year. Routine visits will start your child on a lifetime of good dental health. Dr. Espinosa may also recommend protective sealants or home fluoride treatments for your child.