There are many things you can do to best care for your child’s teeth to set them up to have perfectly healthy teeth in the future. Your child will have their baby teeth until the age of 12 but will start losing them at age 6. It is important to keep these baby teeth healthy so that they can hold the space open for the adult teeth to come in. The biggest reason for early loss of baby teeth is tooth decay (cavities). There are many things that can put your child at increased risk of developing tooth decay, and much of it can be prevented.
Tooth decay occurs when sugar on the teeth is eaten by bacteria and produces acid, which wears away the surface of the tooth. One of the most effective ways to reduce the amount of decay is to brush your teeth twice a day. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste removes bacteria and sugars from the surface of the tooth, and the fluoride strengthens the tooth. The Canadian Dental Association recommends that fluoride toothpaste be used for all children except for children under 3 years old who have a low risk of decay. The risk of dental decay can be determined at your child’s first dental appointment, which is recommended to be before their first birthday. Another important determinant of tooth decay is the frequency of sugar consumption. We recommend children be limited to a maximum of 3 snacks or sugary drinks per day. In young children especially, sippy cups filled with milk or fruit juice are a major source of tooth decay because of how frequently the child’s teeth are coated with sugary substances, giving bacteria the perfect area to grow and cause damage.