Control the Sippy Cup Habit
Bottles taken to bed aren’t the only beverage problem. The other? Juice. Juice given during the day as a substitute for water and milk is often in a sippy cup. It’s meant as a transition cup when a child is being weaned from a bottle and learning to use a regular cup. Prolonged use of a sippy cup can cause decay on the back of the front teeth if the beverages they contain are sugary.
A little nutrition side-note: Juice consumption has been linked to childhood obesity and the development of tooth decay, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. In its current policy statement on preventive oral health, the organization advises parents to limit the intake of 100% fruit juice to no more than four ounces a day. Sugary drinks and foods should be limited to mealtimes. These days most pediatricians are telling parents to use juice only as a treat.
Beware of Mouth-Unfriendly Medicines
Many medications that children take are flavored and sugary. If that sticks on the teeth, the risk for tooth decay goes up. Children on medications for chronic conditions such as asthma and heart problems often have a higher decay rate, she finds. Antibiotics and some asthma medications can cause an overgrowth of candida (yeast), which can lead to a fungal infection called oral thrush. Suspect thrush if you see creamy, curd-like patches on the tongue or inside the mouth.
If your child is on chronic medications, ask your child’s dentist how often you should brush. You may be advised to help your child brush as often as four times a day.
Stand Firm on Oral Hygiene
As a parent you may encounter the problem with your children putting up a fuss when it comes time to brush and floss. Because of this you may cave in and not keep up with oral care at home as you should. However, it is strongly advised that you let your children know they don’t have a choice about brushing and flossing.
But it has to be done, even if children can get cranky and difficult. Here are some tips to get reluctant brushers and flossers to get the job done — or if they are too young, to allow their parents to help them do it.
• Plan to help your children longer than you may think necessary. Children don’t have the fine motor skills to brush their own teeth until about age 6. Flossing skills don’t get good until later, probably age 10.
• Schedule the brushing and flossing and rinsing, if advised, at times when your child is not overly tired. You may get more cooperation from a child who isn’t fatigued.
• Get your child involved in a way that’s age-appropriate. For instance, you might let a child who is age 5 or older pick his own toothpaste at the store, from options you approve. You could buy two or three different kinds of toothpaste and let the child choose which one to use each time. You may offer him a choice of toothbrushes, including kid-friendly ones that are brightly colored or decorated.
• Figure out what motivates your child. A younger child may gladly brush for a sticker, for instance, or gold stars on a chart.