Tooth decay – known as dental caries – affects children in the United States more than any other chronic infectious disease. Untreated tooth decay causes pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning.
The good news is that tooth decay and other oral diseases that can affect children are preventable. The combination of dental sealants and fluoride has the potential to nearly eliminate tooth decay in school-age children.
- Encourage your children to eat regular nutritious meals and avoid frequent between-meal snacking.
- Protect your child’s teeth with fluoride.
- If your child is less than 7 years old, put only a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste on their toothbrush.
- If your drinking water is not fluoridated, talk to a dentist or physician about the best way to protect your child’s teeth.
- Talk to your child’s dentist about dental sealants. They protect teeth from decay.
- If you are pregnant, get prenatal care and eat a healthy diet. The diet should include folic acid to prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord and possibly cleft lip/palate.
- Take your child for an oral health assessment between ages 1-2, and every six months thereafter.
- Make sure your child wears a helmet when bicycling and uses protective headgear and mouth guards in other sports activities.
(Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)