Having a cavity is no fun. In addition to the damage to the tooth, it hurts! As parents, you want to do everything you can to protect your child.
Good dental hygiene for children starts at a young age. If good habits are started early, the chances for cavities are lowered and hopefully, they will carry those habits for the rest of their life.
Read on for the seven best ways to prevent cavities in your child.
What Causes a Cavity
A cavity is actually a tiny hole in the tooth. These holes do not appear overnight. It is a process where acid slowly erodes the layers of the tooth enamel.
The acid is formed by bacteria that stays on the tooth. Everyone has bacteria in their mouths. The trick is to try and reduce the amount and then get rid of what is there as soon as possible.
Bacteria that groups together forms plaque, which gets stuck on the tooth. The acid starts to penetrate until it finally touches a nerve. That’s when the pain starts.
Following these simple steps will help with cavity prevention.
1. Start Early With Brushing
You should start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as they appear. Use a very soft baby toothbrush or a washcloth to wipe them.
As they get older, have them brush twice a day and introduce a fluoride toothpaste at around three to four years of age. They may still need help at this age to make sure they are doing it correctly.
They should use the right angle and pressure and brush for at least two minutes. They may be around seven before they can successfully do this on their own.
2. Teach Them How to Floss
As soon as they have teeth that touch, start with flossing. This should be done at least once a day.
The string floss is difficult for young hands to navigate. Start them with floss picks. They come in a variety of fun shapes, designs, and flavors and kids love to use them.
3. Have Them Drink Lots of Water
Water washes away food remnants in the mouth. It also keeps the mouth hydrated and balances the pH. This helps control the growth of bacteria.
Encourage your child to drink water as soon as possible. If they develop this habit, not only will it help with controlling cavities, it will have lasting benefits as they grow.
4. No Share Eating Utensils or Glasses
There are different kinds of bacteria, and those in your mouth are different from the ones in your child’s mouth. If you share eating utensils or use the same drinking glass, you can pass along your bacteria.
To avoid this, simply don’t share. Since many times this happens without anyone thinking about it, make sure you practice good oral hygiene yourself to limit the transfer of bacteria to them.
5. Limit Their Sugar Intake
Kids love sugar. Do you know what else loves sugar? Bacteria!
Try to limit the sugary foods that your child eats. This includes soft drinks, energy drinks, and even juices. Not only does this help reduce cavities, but too much sugar is bad for their overall health.
To get the benefits of fruit juice, have them eat the actual fruit itself. Eating fruits and raw vegetables produce saliva that helps keep the bacteria from staying on the teeth.
Also, watch out for sticky and starchy foods as well. Foods like taffy, caramel, and other types of gummy candy are just so hard to get off. Some snack foods like cheese crackers and pretzels also form a coating on teeth that stays until the next brushing.
These foods do not have to be avoided entirely, just be careful that your child does not have too much. In addition, they should always brush and rinse thoroughly after eating sugary or sticky foods.
6. Best Ways to Prevent Cavities: Schedule Regular Dentist Visits
No one likes going to the dentist, but starting early does make it easier as they get older. Find a local pediatric dentist and take them twice a year. There are steps you can take to ease any dental anxiety.
Their dentist will monitor the health of their teeth while doing a thorough cleaning. These professional cleanings remove tartar buildup.
They will also provide fluoride treatments that will further strengthen their teeth and make them more resistant to bacteria.
The dentist will notice early signs of decay and formulate a plan to take care of it. Attacking it early will avoid painful cavities and expensive dental bills later.
7. Ask About Sealants
When you are at one of the office visits, ask the dentist about sealants.
Sealants applied to young teeth add an extra layer of protection until the enamel is fully developed. It also fills in any spaces and cracks to keep bacteria from settling in and causing problems.
This is an easy and pain-free process that will add years of protection for your child.
Teeth Care for Older Kids
These seven steps should be started young to develop good oral hygiene as your child gets older. As preteens, you may need to remind them to stay on top of brushing and flossing their teeth. An electric toothbrush at this age is also helpful.
If your child plays sports, make sure they use a mouth guard to protect their teeth.
In addition to their regular dentist, you will also want to schedule an appointment for their first orthodontist visit. This visit will identify potential problems with teeth alignment and crowding.
It’s Never Too Soon to Start
The health of your children’s mouth and teeth start with good habits at a young age. Teach them not only how to brush and floss their teeth, but how the right foods and water will help resist tooth decay. We have covered a few of the best ways to prevent cavities to get your child started on a life-long journey of a healthy mouth.
We here at Dallas Children’s Dental Network are dedicated to quality care when it comes to all your child’s dental needs. Find an office near you to schedule an appointment or find out more information.