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5 Ways Your Child’s Teeth Are a Top Priority

The problem of tooth decay affecting the youngest members of society is a big problem. Here’s what you can do about it.


Joseph Castellano, D.D.S.

President, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (A.A.P.D.)

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry just released the second edition of the “State of Little Teeth Report;” it’s making waves. The report draws on the latest scientific research and best available expertise to examine the challenges facing the oral health of our children and what we can do about them. 

In particular, the report underscores how tooth decay is affecting our little ones. Additionally, it includes expert advice and solutions, from pediatric dentists, parents, and our nation’s leaders, to combat this problem. The good news: Tooth decay has decreased over the past four years.

But wait, that’s not all

The bad news? Nearly half of children aged six to eleven, and more than half of children aged 12 – 19 in the United States are affected by tooth decay. This is a condition which can cause up to $25,000 worth of damage, and which is also 100 percent preventable.  

There are small, yet important, changes you can make today to ensure your child is set up for a lifetime of healthy habits. These changes can also help reverse the tooth decay epidemic among our children.

Here are five best practices you can implement right away:

1. Build a dental home for them by age one

Getting your kids started with regular oral care at a young age will lead to healthy oral health habits for life. Take your child to a pediatric dentist by age one, or at the sign of their first tooth.

2. Brush together

Children learn good, lifelong brushing habits early, from mom, dad, or their caregiver. Speed this process along by brushing with your child for two minutes, twice a day.

3. It’s how often, not how much

How frequently your child eats and drinks sugar throughout the day is a big factor in tooth decay. Make sure they stick to designated meal times; limit snacking and juice drinking to a maximum of three times a day. And finally, drink plenty of water in between meals.

4. Toothaches can talk

It is important not to ignore toothaches, whatever your child’s age. This is especially true with young children; their toothaches can be warning signs of other ailments, like cavities or infection. All of these can be treated and prevented if caught early

5. Healthy teeth and special needs

Parents and caregivers of special needs children often have concerns about their child’s tolerance with dental appointments. But postponing the visit is not the right response. Pediatric dentists have unique expertise and extra training to treat children with special needs. Beyond dental school, pediatric dentists have two to three years of specialized training in areas particular to special needs patients, so they can effectively address anxiety related to dental visits. Talk to your pediatric dentist about best practice recommendations that can help better meet your child’s specific needs.

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