How does diet affect my child’s oral health?

Healthy eating habits lead to healthy teeth. The bones and the soft tissues of the mouth require a well-balanced diet to remain strong and healthy. Children should eat a variety of foods from the five major food groups. We recommend that sugary and starchy snacks and drinks be reduced or eliminated from your child’s diet. If your child needs a snack, try giving them nutritious foods such as fruits and vegetables, low-fat yogurt and low-fat cheese.

How do I prevent cavities?

The best way to protect your child’s teeth from cavities is to ensure that they practice good oral hygiene.

For infants, use a wet gauze or soft toothbrush to remove plaque from teeth and gums. Do not put your child to bed with a bottle unless that bottle contains water.

Older children should brush their teeth at least twice a day and avoid eating sugary snacks.

Children should visit a pediatric dentist every six months. Additional preventive care, such as sealants or fluoride, may be provided at these visits.

What are sealants, and how do they work?

Dental sealants are clear or tooth-colored plastic material applied to the chewing surfaces of the molars and premolars. They block out food, plaque and acid to protect the more decay-prone areas of the teeth.

What is fluoride, and how does it help?

Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that works to strengthen teeth. It can be found in many water sources and foods. As beneficial as fluoride is, however, too little or too much fluoride can be detrimental. Little or no fluoride will not strengthen the teeth, while excessive fluoride ingestion can lead to fluorosis (a discoloration of the permanent teeth).

Please make sure your child is able to spit out excess toothpaste, and do not give fluoride supplements to infants younger than six months of age. Our pediatric dentists will check your child’s fluoride levels to determine if additional treatment or supplement is needed.

What are mouth guards?

When your child begins to participate in athletics or other recreational activities, we recommend that they be fitted for a sports mouth guard. This appliance can help protect your child’s smile and prevent injury to the lips, tongue, face and jaw as well as broken teeth.

What is xylitol, and how can it help my child?

Xylitol is a type of sweetener that has been proven to benefit the oral health of infants, children, adolescents and persons with special health care needs. Using xylitol as either a sugar substitute or a small dietary addition helps to dramatically reduce tooth decay and enhance the protective effect of other preventive treatments.

Xylitol can be found in a number of natural sources as well, including fruits, berries, mushrooms and lettuce.

To find gum or other products containing xylitol, visit your local health food store or search the internet to find products containing 100% xylitol.

If you have any additional questions about how to help your child prevent tooth decay and other oral issues, we invite you to contact University Pediatric Dentistry today at 704-688-1664 and schedule your appointment with Dr. M. Danielle Funny and Dr. Sonya Maynor, our pediatric dentists in Charlotte, North Carolina. We are happy to help in any way!

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