Preventing Cavities in Children

Your child’s oral health is critical to his overall well-being, and cavities are a chronic disease that can have a huge impact on your child’s oral health. In fact, statistics show that childhood tooth decay has become an epidemic, with 60% of children having a cavity by the age of five. Parents often think that cavities in baby teeth are a minor problem since these teeth fall out. However, the baby teeth are essential guides to the positioning and health of permanent teeth. The good news is that it’s easy to prevent cavities in children by following a few tips.
Tip #1 – Start Dental Visits Early
It’s important to start your child’s routine dental visits early. The American Dental Association recommends that you have your child to the dentist by the time he is one. Tooth decay can start very young, and early prevention is very important. Having that first dental visit at or before the age of one helps get your child used to dental visits and gives your dentist the chance to build a relationship with your child. Early dental visits also allow you to learn better dental habits to prevent cavities in the future. Once you start dental visits, you should have your child into the dentist for a checkup and cleaning every six months. Those routine checkups can catch early problems so they don’t turn into more painful problems that can be complicated to treat.
Tip #2 – Don’t Share Spoons or Clean Pacifiers with Your Tongue
It’s easy to spread oral bacteria by sharing spoons, cleaning pacifiers with your tongue, or sharing drinks. Even before your child has teeth, bacteria that causes cavities can start colonizing on the furrows of your child’s tongue. When you share a spoon, a drink, or clean off that pacifier with your mouth, you can spread cavity-causing bacteria to your child. It’s also important to make sure you’re taking good care of your oral health to reduce the chance that you’ll transmit harmful bacteria to your child.
Tip #3 – Take Care of Brushing and Flossing Yourself While Children are Young
Until your children are about six and able to properly brush teeth on their own, you should take care of the brushing and flossing yourself. Make sure that you are brushing your child’s teeth twice a day for at least two minutes, ensuring that you remove all plaque from their teeth. Once your child has teeth touching each other, you also need to floss the areas between teeth. When your child begins brushing and flossing on his own, take time to check teeth for any plaque to ensure they are doing a good job.
Tip #4 – Help Your Child Choose Healthy Snacks
The bacteria that cause cavities feed on sugar and then produce acids that erode away tooth enamel to cause a cavity. Limiting sugar in your child’s diet is one of the best ways to prevent cavities. Allowing your child to have a lot of sugary sodas, sticky candy, Gatorade, and other sweets will increase the risk of developing cavities. It’s also important to consider the frequency of your child’s snacking habits. If your child is eating off and on all day, there’s a constant supply of sugar in their mouth, increasing the risk they’ll develop cavities. Along with limiting snacks and drinks packed with sugar, it’s also important to avoid constant snacking and make sure your child brushes after eating. Better snack choices for kids include carrots, celery, apples, and other fresh veggies and fruits, since they can actually help scrub plaque from teeth when they are eaten.
Tip #5 – Go Ahead and Use Fluoride Toothpaste
Dentists recommend that you use fluoride toothpaste as soon as your child has a tooth, and the fluoride can help remineralize parts of teeth that may have been weakened by acids. Usually it’s recommended that you use a small smear of toothpaste about the size of a rice grain for children under the age of three, and then kids between the ages of four and six can use a pea-sized amount of the toothpaste. It’s also a good idea to purchase toothpaste that comes in a fun color and flavor, since kids will enjoy sticking with their oral hygiene regimen more if toothpaste tastes and looks better.
Tooth decay in children is a huge problem, but you can prevent cavities in your child by following these tips. To learn more about what you can do to prevent cavities in children, book an appointment and talk with your dentist today.