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Join the fight against early dental decay

(NC) We don't easily associate cavities and gum disease with our little ones, but in reality these problems can begin very early.

A 2013 report from the Canadian Institute of Health Information revealed that severe tooth decay and cavities, both of which are highly preventable, are now the leading cause of day surgery in this country among children ages 1 to 5 years. Approximately 19,000 children under the age of 6 undergo day surgery each year to treat dental decay. While these figures are alarming, parents can reduce the risks by instilling good oral hygiene habits early, as follows:

• Wipe baby's mouth and gums with a clean, wet cloth or piece of gauze after feeding.

• Avoid fruit punches and other sweetened drinks in baby bottles, especially before bed.

• Reduce the frequency of nighttime feedings.

• Use only pacifiers with an orthodontic design, and don't dip them in sugary substances.

• Avoid transfer of your saliva onto items used by baby, including bottles, cups, and pacifiers. Bacteria spread.

• Gently clean newly erupted teeth with a small, soft toothbrush.

• Rinse your child's mouth with water immediately after any liquid medication is given.

• Check for early warning signs by lifting up baby's top lip. White, chalky teeth, or brown or black stained teeth, indicate a problem. Contact your dental professional immediately.

• Gradually introduce fresh fruits and vegetables to the diet. These foods, which require chewing, stimulate saliva flow and help to neutralize acids.

• Begin regular dental visits by age one.

Additional tips and information are available online at www.dentalhygienecanada.ca.

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