According to the CDC:
- Bacteria in the mouth produce acid when a person eats sugary foods. This acid eats away minerals from the tooth’s surface, making the tooth weaker and increasing the chance of developing cavities.
- Drinking tap water with fluoride rebuilds the surface of the tooth. By keeping the tooth strong and solid, fluoride protects teeth from decay.
- Dental sealants are a quick, easy, and painless way to prevent most cavities children get in the permanent back teeth where 9 in 10 cavities occur. Children aged 6 to 11 years without sealants have almost 3 times more first-molar cavities than children with sealants.
February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Cavities, also known as caries or tooth decay, are one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood, yet cavities are preventable. Untreated cavities can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning. Children who have poor oral health often miss more school and receive lower grades than children who don’t.
Your child’s diet is very important for developing and maintaining strong and healthy teeth. It is helpful to include good sources of calcium (yogurt, broccoli, and milk) to your child’s diet to help build strong teeth. Teaching your child about healthy eating habits is one of the best practices for a lifetime of good health. Here are some helpful tips:
- Eat fruits and vegetables for snacks rather than candies and cookies.
- Brush your child’s teeth twice daily.
- Serve water at mealtime rather than juice or soda.
What Parents and Caregivers Can Do
- Wipe gums twice a day with a soft, clean cloth in the morning after the first feeding and right before bed to wipe away bacteria and sugars that can cause cavities.
- When teeth come in, start brushing twice a day with a soft, small‑bristled toothbrush and plain water.
- Visit the dentist by your baby’s first birthday to spot signs of problems early.
- Talk to your dentist or doctor about putting fluoride varnish on your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth appears.
For children younger than 2, consult first with your doctor or dentist regarding the use of fluoride toothpaste.
- Brush their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
- Help your child brush their teeth until they have good brushing skills.
If your child is younger than 6, watch them brush. Make sure they use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and always spit it out rather than swallow.
- Ask your child’s dentist to apply dental sealants when appropriate.
- Drink tap water that contains fluoride.
Affordable dental care is available through My Community Dental Centers (MCDC) for Medicard enrollees and low-income, uninsured residents throughout the state of Michigan. For more information, call 877-313-6232 or visit their website: www.mydental.org
Questions? Contact your local dental health provider. If you do not have one, visit whereforcare.info/#findaprovider to locate a provider near you.