Preventing Cavities in Children

Cavities are a common problem in children, and over 50% of children will have a cavity by the time they reach second grade. However, while childhood cavities are a common and serious problem, they can be prevented. Taking measures to prevent cavities in baby teeth is important, and it helps build good oral habits so children keep adult teeth healthy too. Here’s a closer look at some important tips for preventing cavities in your children’s teeth.

Start with Good Pre-Natal Oral Health

It’s important for pregnant moms to take good care of their own oral health. This includes practicing good oral hygiene each day and having regular dental exams. Doing so helps to prevent the transmission of cavity germs to your baby. Good oral health is also important in the parents of babies and toddlers, since those cavity germs can be transferred to your baby. Make sure you’re not sharing utensils with your baby or cleaning off a pacifier using your mouth.

Begin Caring for Gums Young

Even before your child’s teeth appear, you should start caring for his gums. The inside of the mouth and gums should be wiped gently each day, particularly before bed and after feedings. This can be done with a warm, damp, clean cloth.

Start Brushing When the First Tooth Appears

When that very first tooth appears, it’s time to start brushing your child’s tooth. You can begin with a smear or toothpaste with fluoride and a baby size, soft toothbrush. For children between the ages of 2 and 5, you can help your child brush and give them a “pea size” amount of toothpaste. Brushing right away is important, and starting young will help your child build good oral health habits that prevent cavities.

Understand the Importance of a Healthy Diet

The food choices and eating patterns of your child can affect whether they develop cavities. If your child’s diet doesn’t have the right nutrients, it can be tougher for the tissues of the mouth to resist infection. Some research shows that disease, including dental caries, can progress faster and be more serious in individuals who have nutrient-poor diets.

It’s important to choose foods carefully. Many foods contain sugars, even if you don’t suspect they would, including bread, milk, and cereals. Teach your child to eat a balanced, nutrient-rich diet that includes the five food groups. Snacking should be limited, since the more often your child eats, the longer foods stay in the mouth and the more potential there is for tooth damage.

Skip the Fruit Juices

Fruit juices come with more calories than fruit and none of the important fiber. Many have added sugars as well. Many parents give their kids fruit juices thinking they are making a healthy choice. However, all those sugars can result in cavities. Kids shouldn’t have more than 4-6 ounces of 100% fruit juice each day between the ages of one and six. If you do give juice, it’s a good idea to water it down.

Fight Cavities with Fluoride

Fluoride offers some great benefits for children. It can help to protect your child’s tooth enamel, helping it resist the bacteria and acid that can cause tooth decay. Drinking water that has fluoride can be very beneficial for kids, as can other fluoride products, such as fluoride toothpastes and mouthwashes. If your water doesn’t contain fluoride, talk to your dentists about dietary fluoride supplements, and always talk to a dentist about using fluoride in kids younger than age two.

Talk to Your Pediatric Dentists About Dental Sealants

Dental sealants can offer a great way to prevent cavities, and they’re specifically used on the molars. It’s easy for food and bacteria to get stuck in the grooves and pits on the molars, and sometimes even brushing doesn’t remove them all easily. By covering these surfaces with sealants, food and bacteria can be prevented from falling into grooves and pits, reducing the chance of cavities in these areas. Sealants can be applied to these teeth as soon as they grow in.

Get Those Regular Dental Checkups In

Of course, regular dental checkups are also essential to prevent cavities. Your child needs regularly exams and cleanings. During a routine visit, dentists will eliminate dental plaque, check the teeth for any signs of tooth decay, help you and your child learn more about proper dental hygiene, and more. Keep up with these appointments and you’ll reduce your child’s risk of developing cavities.