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Preventing Tooth Decay In Children

January is a great time for families to set attainable goals. With the holiday treats behind us and Valentine's treats ahead of us, this is a great time to reset and take care of your health AND especially your teeth! Kids First Pediatrics of Raleigh and Clayton wants to help support your child's health in every way. Below is a great article from the American Academy of Pediatrics on risk factors and prevention of tooth decay in children.

More than 45% of all U.S. children experience dental caries—or tooth decay—by age 19. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) addresses this chronic and common childhood disease within an updated clinical report, "Maintaining and Improving the Oral Health of Young Children," published in the January 2023 Pediatrics.

Risk factors for dental decay include a high sugar diet, frequent snacking, lack of a dental home, and tooth decay in the child's caregivers and siblings, for example.

"Families can instill good habits early by never putting a child to bed with a bottle, avoiding sugary drinks, and serving as role models by brushing and flossing regularly."

Serve water between meals

The AAP advises that children drink only water between meals, preferably fluoridated tap water, and avoid juice intake before age 1. Juice should be limited to, at most, 4 ounces per day in toddlers ages 1 through 3 years, and 4 to 6 ounces per day for children ages 4 through 6. For children ages 7 to 18 years, juice should be limited to 8 ounces or 1 cup of the recommended 2 to 2.5 cups of fruit servings per day.

The importance of fluoride

Fluoride is also critically important to prevent dental caries, especially for those who do not have early or consistent ongoing dental care.

"Most bottled waters do not contain an adequate amount of fluoride," said Kaitlin Whelan, MD, FAAP, co-author of the report. "Fluoride toothpastes and rinses are helpful, and the pediatrician or dentist can also apply fluoride varnish to the teeth two to four times annually, a practice that we know reduces substantially the risks of dental caries."

"We have made strides in treating more children for tooth decay over the past decade," Dr. Krol said. "But preventing decay is always the best way to go. I think the tooth fairy would agree."

More information

Have questions about your child's dental care? Ask your child's dentist or your Kids First Provider at your child's next visit. (Raleigh: 919-250-378 or Clayton: 919-267-1499). And most importantly, start the year off strong with a good at-home dental routine with your child.

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*This article is informational but is not a substitute for medical attention or information from your provider.


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