7 Ways to Help Your Child Prevent Cavities
It can be a challenge for any parent to get their child to brush and floss regularly and effectively. But once you have instilled this good behavior, those habits will help prevent cavities and save them from future tooth pain.
The Importance of Preventing Cavities
An untrained person may not be able to identify tooth decay in its beginning stages. Symptoms may include sensitivity, pain, tooth discoloration, or bad breath. When these signs are unrecognized or ignored, it can lead to a long list of difficulties for any child or adult.
Untreated cavities can lead to:
- Pain that interrupts everyday routines.
- Swollen gum tissue.
- Abscessed teeth.
- Tooth loss.
Sometimes, a cavity will cause issues with chewing, leading to changes in diet. These changes may cause weight loss or poor nutritional intake. Teaching your child to care for their teeth will help them avoid these complications.
How To Prevent Cavities
Protecting a child’s teeth from decay starts with the parents and is as simple as following a few recommendations.
1. Serve your child healthy, tasty snacks.
It’s a well-known fact that sugar is the main culprit in causing cavities. However, starchy snacks are guilty too. Crackers and pretzels are favorite snacks for many kids, but they are also examples of starchy snacks that should be limited. Remnants of these foods remain on the teeth for hours, feeding bacteria.
Give your child snacks that easily dissolve when mixed with water and saliva, like yogurt. Other snacks less likely to stick to teeth include cheese, nuts, and apple slices.
It’s important to give your child a well-balanced diet of freshly prepared meals, including plenty of fruits and veggies.
2. Establish an oral hygiene routine.
Once your baby’s first tooth appears, establish a brushing routine. You can use a cleaning method that small children tolerate well, like a washcloth or teething toothbrush for babies and infants.
For kids ages three to six, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and brush their teeth twice daily. Once their teeth start to touch, you should also introduce regular flossing.
3. Help with brushing as long as they need it.
Brushing your teeth takes a lot of coordination. The brush must be held at the correct angle, you must use the right amount of pressure, and clean each side of the tooth. Most little kids aren’t coordinated enough to handle this task on their own for an entire two minutes.
One good way to figure out your child’s level of coordination is to see how well they can write their name. Other signs you can watch for include taking the initiative to complete chores and prioritizing hygiene. If they can wash and brush their hair, there’s a good chance that they can handle a toothbrush as well.
4. Make sure your child gets fluoride.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that can help protect (and even repair!) tooth enamel, which is especially important for children whose baby teeth already have a thinner layer of enamel. Fluoride is available in many forms, including bottled water and city water sources. The level of fluoride present varies, so children shouldn’t rely on water as their primary source of fluoride.
They should use a fluoridated toothpaste and get fluoride treatments during their routine dental visits. Some dentists will recommend supplements if your water is not fluoridated.
5. Understand your child’s risk factors for decay.
All kids are at risk for developing tooth decay when the proper precautions aren’t taken. Those who practice good oral hygiene habits decrease their chances of struggling with cavities.
Children with the following risk factors are more likely to battle tooth decay:
- Sleeping with a bottle.
- Having deep grooves in the teeth.
- Lacking fluoride in the water supply.
- Harboring a lot of bacteria in the mouth.
- Having a dry mouth or limited saliva flow.
Children who eat too many carbohydrates or sugary foods and don’t brush their teeth properly are also at high risk of developing tooth decay.
6. Schedule routine visits with a pediatric dentist.
Pediatric dentistry focuses on treating children’s teeth at every stage. A pediatric dentist has undergone training to handle young patients who may be at high risk for developing cavities.
You should schedule routine checkups to ensure that your child is headed down the right path. The dentist will identify any early signs of decay and make recommendations accordingly.
7. Ask about sealants.
Some teeth, like molars, can develop deep grooves that a standard toothbrush can’t effectively clean. Your dentist can fill these grooves with sealants to provide an extra layer of protection against cavities. This is a straightforward, painless procedure that can help prevent up to 80% of cavities in the first two years.
Help your child develop good oral hygiene habits.
It’s never too early to emphasize the importance of good oral hygiene habits. These habits will help prevent cavities from forming in your child’s teeth. If you have questions about preventing cavities for your child, schedule an appointment at Must Love Kids Pediatric Dentistry. Call us today.