How To Prevent Cavities in Children
Tooth decay affects more than 1/4 of children aged 2-5 years old and 1/2 of those aged 12 – 15.
Early childhood tooth decay is acknowledged by the American Dental Association (ADA) as a significant public health issue but decay is easily preventable with good oral hygiene and nutrition.
A hole in the tooth that is caused by tooth decay is known as a cavity or dental caries. Decay occurs when plaque combines with foods that contain sugars and starches. The bacteria that live in the mouth thrive on these foods and produce acid which can break down and destroy the tooth’s enamel. The longer it takes a child to chew their food, the longer the food producing acid remains on their teeth resulting in decay.
Left untreated, tooth decay can cause pain, infection, tooth loss and significantly affect your child’s quality of life and future success in maintaining good oral health.
How To Prevent Cavities in Children:
- A proper diet is essential for infants and young children to have normal growth and development. By following a healthy, balanced diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals and fresh produce, children will have less tooth decay and will be more likely to follow healthy eating habits as adults.
- Since all sugars cause decay, limit unhealthy and sweet snacks. Avoid acidic food and drinks such as processed foods, crackers, sticky foods, ice cream, fruit juice, milk and soft drinks. Instead give your child foods that will protect their teeth. Water, fresh fruit and vegetables will increase saliva flow and wash away food particles. Make treats a part of your child’s meal so they’re not steadily snacking or drinking and keeping their teeth under constant attack. Never put your child to bed with a bottle of milk or juice. The acid from the beverage will sit in your child’s mouth for a long period of time and eat away at the enamel damaging not only the baby teeth but potentially the adult teeth as well.
- Ask your dentist if Dental Sealants are right for your child. A sealant is a protective, plastic coating applied to the back of the teeth where most decay occurs.
- Help your child develop a morning and evening tooth-brushing ritual so your child’s teeth are properly cleaned each day. Ideally your child’s teeth should be brushed with toothpaste after each meal but at the minimum, be sure they brush, floss and rinse at least twice daily.
- Have your child brush twice a day, floss and rinse daily. Ideally, your child’s teeth should be brushed with dental products that contain fluoride after each meal. Encourage your child to practice good oral hygiene and teach them to brush their teeth properly.
- Schedule routine dental examinations and cleanings every six months.
Starting early and setting a good foundation for your child’s oral health will prevent dental cavities and promote a healthy smile that will last a lifetime.