A smile may be the most pleasing thing any child can wear. As a parent, it’s your job to safeguard that smile. While a diagnosis of diabetes makes that job a bit more challenging, it’s something that can be easily managed – once you know what to do.
Paying attention to your child’s dental health is important because high levels of sugar in their saliva can cause bacteria to grow and increase plaque buildup. This sticky film of bacteria, or plaque, covers teeth after a meal, snack or drink. If plaque is not removed, it can lead to cavities, infection and other dental problems.
Before you think that caring for your child’s mouth is like pulling teeth, read our suggestions below.
- Manage your child’s blood sugar levels to lower the risk of dental problems.
- Promote good eating habits.
- Make sure your child consumes plenty of calcium and vitamin D, which helps build strong teeth and bones.
- Teach your child how to properly care for their teeth.
- Begin regular 6-month cleanings at age 2 or when your child’s teeth start to come in.
- Talk with your dentist to schedule a meeting before your child’s first dental exam. By preparing questions before the visit, you can have a more meaningful discussion with the dentist about your child’s dental health. This can help make your child’s experience a positive one.
- If you have concerns about your child’s first dental visit – or if you need a referral to a pediatric dentist – talk with your nurse or doctor.
- Discuss the use of fluoride with your dentist. Fluoride supports bones and strong tooth enamel. Sources include drinking water, toothpaste, mouthwash, fluoride tablets and fluoride treatments (that are performed by a dentist).
- Be aware that well water and most bottled water does not contain fluoride. When buying bottled water, look for fluoride as an ingredient on the label.
- Talk to your dentist about possible sealants for your child’s permanent teeth.
Daily mouth care:
- Teach your child how to properly brush their teeth as part of a morning and bedtime routine.
- Use a soft- to medium-bristle toothbrush sized appropriately for your child’s age.
- Replace toothbrushes every 3 months.
- Use fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss daily to remove plaque and food between teeth. Start at the back of the mouth and move to the front – from top to bottom.
- Before naps or bedtime, remove bottles.
- Gently clean your baby’s gums with a soft washcloth after meals.
- Use a small, soft-bristle brush when your baby’s teeth start to come in.
Some people would give their eyeteeth (if they have them) for an attractive smile. With preventive care, you can ensure that your child’s teeth remain beautiful.
For additional information about diabetes, visit Akron Children’s Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology.