Maintaining your child’s dental health is a key priority as a parent or caregiver. A very common dental issue that children face is that of cavities. Although cavities can be uncomfortable and result in more serious dental issues if not treated, the good news is that cavities can be prevented.
In this blog, we’ll look at a few effective strategies for keeping kids’ teeth healthy and protecting them from cavities.
What Causes Cavities in Children?
Cavities can occur for various reasons. Understanding these factors can assist parents in implementing preventative steps to safeguard their children’s dental health. The main causes of cavities in children are:
- Poor Oral Hygiene: When brushing and flossing are neglected, dental plaque, a bacterial film that sticks to teeth, can build up. When bacteria encounter sugars from food and beverages, they create acids. These substances can erode tooth enamel and cause cavities.
- High Sugar Intake: Consuming sugary foods and drinks is fuel for cavity-causing bacteria. These bacteria convert sugars into acids, which can weaken and erode your tooth enamel over time. It can lead to cavities, which may require complex procedures such as root canals.
While cavities are most likely to form in your molars and premolars, they can also form on your front teeth. If this happens, you may need a root canal front tooth treatment.
- Tooth Structure and Genetics: Some kids may have weakened tooth enamel or other dental conditions that make them more prone to cavities. Furthermore, crooked or misaligned teeth can leave space for plaque and food debris to get trapped, increasing the risk of tooth decay.
- Dry Mouth: Saliva is essential for remineralizing teeth and neutralizing mouth acids. Children who suffer from dry mouth or take medicines that limit saliva production may have an increased risk of developing cavities.
- Poor Nutritional Decisions: Eating a diet low in calcium and phosphorus can weaken your tooth enamel and make it more likely to decay.
How to Prevent Cavities in Children?
1. Create a Regular Dental Care Routine
To prevent cavities, starting a regular dental care routine for your child early on is important.
For babies with no teeth yet, wipe their gums with a clean, wet cloth after each feeding. Once their teeth start to come in, teach them to brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush. As they get older, show them how to use fluoride toothpaste to brush their teeth twice daily.
2. Use Flouride Toothpaste
Fluoride is a natural mineral that helps to strengthen tooth enamel and prevent cavities. This is why choosing a toothpaste for your child that contains fluoride is important.
If your child is under three, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste when brushing their teeth. Teach them to spit out the toothpaste instead of swallowing it. Swallowing too much fluoride can lead to health problems.
3. Supervise Brushing Habits Of Your Children
Young children often don’t have the skills or patience to brush their teeth well on their own. That’s why it’s important to supervise their brushing until they can do it well on their own.
As their parent, you should encourage them to brush their teeth for at least two minutes. Some children may not want to spend that much time brushing, especially before bed. You can use colorful toothbrushes and play their favorite music while they brush to make it more fun for them.
4. Instill The Habit Of Daily Flossing
Flossing is just as important as brushing when it comes to cleaning between teeth and along the gum line.
Start teaching your child how to floss once their teeth begin to touch, around age two. You may need to help them at first, but they can learn to do it independently with practice.
Here are some tips for flossing your child’s teeth:
- Take a piece of floss.
- Wrap the floss around the middle finger of each hand, leaving a few inches of floss loose in the middle.
- Gently slide the floss between two teeth, using a back-and-forth motion.
- Curve the floss around the tooth in the shape of a C and slide it up and down the side of the tooth, being sure to go below the gum line.
5. Limit Sugary Foods and Beverages
One of the main factors contributing to childhood cavities is too much sugar. Foods and beverages high in sugar feed the bad bacteria in our mouths, which then generate acids that destroy tooth enamel. This is why limiting the amount of sugary foods, candy, and soft beverages your children consume is important to prevent cavities.
6. Aim For a Balanced Diet
A balanced diet is essential for preventing cavities in children.
Give your child a variety of foods rich in the vitamins and minerals necessary for healthy teeth, such as calcium and phosphorus. Good sources of these nutrients include lean meats, leafy greens, dairy products, and whole grains.
Crunchy foods like apples and carrots can also help to clean teeth naturally.
7. Consult a Dentist
Routine dental exams are essential for preventing cavities and curbing other dental issues. Within six months following the eruption of the first tooth, you should make an appointment with a dentist. The dentist can make a schedule for regular examinations. During these appointments, the dentist can also identify and treat tooth problems early on.
8. Put Dental Sealants On
Dental sealants are thin, protective coatings that can be placed on the chewing surfaces of molars and premolars. They create a barrier that helps to prevent food particles and bacteria from building up in the deep grooves and pits of these teeth.
Sealants are a very effective way to reduce the risk of cavities, especially in children. That’s why dentists often recommend sealants for children after their permanent teeth erupt.
In conclusion, to prevent cavities in children, teaching them good oral hygiene habits, such as brushing and flossing twice daily, is important. It is also important to limit their sugary foods and drinks intake, take them to the dentist for regular checkups, and ensure they eat a balanced diet rich in calcium and phosphorus.
Children who learn good oral hygiene habits at a young age are less likely to develop cavities later in life.