Preventing Cavities in Children: Best Practices
Say Goodbye to Cavities
At Kevin H Gropp, DDS, we all want our children to have healthy teeth and beautiful smiles. However, tooth decay is one of the most common chronic childhood diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly one in four children aged two to 11 years old have untreated cavities in their baby teeth. Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent cavities in children.
What Are Cavities?
Cavities, also known as dental caries or tooth decay, are a common dental health issue. They’re the result of the demineralization of the tooth enamel and the subsequent breakdown of the tooth’s structure. Cavities can occur in both children and adults and can affect any tooth in the mouth.
How to Prevent Cavities
Establishing Good Oral Hygiene Habits Early On
Good oral hygiene habits should start as early as infancy. Here are some tips for establishing good oral hygiene habits for your child:
- Even before your child’s teeth erupt, you should gently wipe their gums with a clean, damp cloth after feedings.
- Once the first tooth appears, you should start brushing it with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste. You can use fluoride-free toothpaste until your child can spit out toothpaste after brushing.
- As your child grows, you can gradually increase the amount of toothpaste to a pea-sized amount.
- Teach your child how to floss their teeth once they have two teeth that touch. You can use floss picks or interdental brushes to make flossing easier for your child.
- Make brushing and flossing a fun and positive experience for your child. Sing a song, play a game, or use a timer to make brushing and flossing more enjoyable.
- Be a good role model for your child by practicing good oral hygiene habits yourself. Brush and floss your teeth together with your child to make it a family activity.
Regular Dental Checkups and Cleanings
Regular dental checkups and cleanings are essential for cavity prevention in children. We recommend children visit the dentist for the first time by their first birthday or within six months of their first tooth eruption. After that, children should see our dentist every six months for routine checkups and cleanings. These visits allow the dentist to detect and treat any dental problems early on before they become more serious.
Fluoride Treatments and Supplements
Fluoride is a mineral that helps prevent tooth decay by making the tooth enamel more resistant to acid attacks from plaque bacteria and sugars in the mouth. Fluoride treatments and supplements can be beneficial for children who are at high risk for cavities. Our dentist may recommend fluoride varnish or fluoride supplements if your child doesn’t get enough fluoride from their drinking water or other sources.
Dental sealants are thin, plastic coatings that are applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (molars and premolars). These teeth have deep grooves and pits that can be hard to clean properly, making them more susceptible to decay. Dental sealants create a barrier that prevents food and bacteria from getting trapped in these grooves, reducing the risk of cavities. Our dentist may recommend dental sealants for your child’s molars and premolars as soon as they erupt.
Diet and Nutrition
A healthy diet is essential for good oral health. Sugary and starchy foods and drinks can increase the risk of cavities by feeding the bacteria that produce acid in the mouth. Encourage your child to eat a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products. Limit sugary and starchy foods and drinks, such as candy, soda, juice, and sweetened cereals.
Frequently Asked Questions
What types of foods and drinks should my child avoid to prevent cavities?
To prevent cavities, limit sugary and acidic foods and drinks, such as candy, soda, and fruit juice. Instead, encourage your child to eat a healthy and balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Can dental sealants prevent cavities in children?
Yes, dental sealants can help prevent cavities in children. Sealants are a thin, plastic coating that’s applied to the back teeth (molars) to protect them from decay. They’re most effective when applied soon after the molars have erupted, typically around age six.
Are fluoride treatments safe for children?
Yes, fluoride treatments are safe for children. Fluoride is a mineral that helps to strengthen tooth enamel and prevent cavities. Fluoride treatments can be applied at the dentist’s office or in the form of fluoride supplements, such as toothpaste or mouthwash. It’s important to follow the recommended dosage and talk to your child’s dentist if you have any concerns.
Don’t Wait — Schedule Now!
Preventing cavities in children is an important aspect of maintaining their oral health and overall well-being. If you’re looking for a dental appointment, contact our Northridge dentist today by calling 818-709-8645.