According to the U.S. Department of Health, childhood cavities are five times more common than asthma in children, and more than half of all American children have cavities by the time they reach the second grade. While it is such a widespread problem, there are steps you can take to help protect your child’s oral health. Here are some tips on keeping your child’s teeth healthy:

  • Take care of your child’s teeth early. From birth to 12 months, keep your baby’s mouth clean by gently wiping the gums with a clean baby washcloth. Once the first teeth emerge, gently brush with a soft baby toothbrush and a small amount of toothpaste. After 12 months, brush your child’s teeth at least twice a day.
  • Use your baby’s bottle for only breast milk, formula or water. Keep the juice, soda or other sweetened drinks out of the bottle. If you give your child the bottle when going to bed, make sure that it only has water in it.
  • It’s best to get your child to use a normal cup as soon as possible. Sippy cups, especially when they have sweetened drinks in them, can promote tooth decay.
  • If you give your child a pacifier, do not dip it in anything sweet like sugar or honey.
  • children eating applesWhen your child gets hungry throughout the day, go for the healthy snacks, such as meat, peanut butter, milk, yogurt, cheese, fruits and vegetables. While cutting out sweets altogether may be counterproductive, make sure you limit the number of sweets and the portion sizes you give to your child.

Your child’s first visit to the dentist should take place as soon as the first tooth comes in or around his or her first birthday. If it’s time for the first dental visit, or if you have concerns about childhood cavities, make an appointment today. During the first visit, your dentist will give you lots of useful information on how to teach your child healthy oral care habits.