Preventing Tooth Decay in Children and Infants

New parents always have hard time understanding when the appropriate time is to take their children for their first dental visit. Studies conducted in the state of California show that “54% of children will have tooth decay by the time they start kindergarten in Los Angeles County alone.” According to the California Children’s Report card, in 2016, tooth decay was found to be the most common chronic illness affecting children.  It is important for parents to understand the basics of dental hygiene and how to help prevent tooth decay in the early stages of their children’s lives.

Causes and Prevention

To prevent children from having early childhood cavities, parents have to first understand and find out if their child is at risk of developing cavities. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recognizes that children run a great risk of suffering from early childhood caries if they are frequently exposed to sugary liquids, such as breast milk, formula, milk, juice and other sweet fluids. Therefore, the AAPD suggests that children who are at risk of early childhood cavities visit a pediatric dentist by the age one.

So how should a parent understand if their baby is at risk? First and foremost, it is important for parents to periodically check for white spots on their children’s teeth. If white spots are present, this could be a sign of dental caries and parents are advised to schedule appointments with their pediatric dentist as soon as possible.

To prevent babies getting tooth decay, dentists recommend cleaning baby’s gums and teeth after every feeding.

For children between the ages of 1 and 6, dentists strongly recommend that parents limit intake of juice to 4-6 ounces per day.

A common cause of cavities is the bacteria that are spread from parents to children as a result of sharing. Dentists therefore recommend not sharing a toothbrush or utensils with children and instilling these habits early in childhood.

Dentists also recommend brushing children’s teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and the perfect amount of toothpaste should resemble the diameter of a penny!

As parents and caregivers, we must remember to schedule appointments with our dentists every six months for a basic cleaning, flossing and general check up for cavities or tooth decay.

For more information about dental services provided at CCHC, please click here! To schedule and appointment with one of our pediatric dentists, call:

CCHC Glendale – (818) 265-2259   |    CCHC Sunland – (818) 273-8800   |    CCHC Eagle Rock –  (323) 543-2444

This project is/was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number H80CS10607 Health Center Program, total award amount of $2,493,062 with 88.9% financed with nongovernmental sources. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.