Some people believe that cavities in baby teeth don’t really matter because children eventually lose those teeth. That thinking is actually flawed. Research has shown that the decay that starts in baby teeth can actually spread to permanent teeth. That is why it is so important to learn how to prevent cavities in children. Following these steps can ensure your child’s teeth remain healthy:
Teach Good Habits Early
One of the most important things you can do is to teach your child how to take care of his or her teeth. Children should learn proper tooth brushing technique. (Check out this great playlist from the American Dental Association regarding songs to help young kids brush.)
A simple formula to teach children is “2×2.” In other words, brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day. The ADA suggests that you should monitor your child’s brushing habits until he or she is 8 years old.
Flossing is not just for adults. Once your child reaches 2 or 3, he or she should be able to learn how to floss. Keep in mind that you will need to assist him or her or supervise until he or she is about 8 years old. Flossing is key to preventing cavities because it can remove the plaque that gets trapped between teeth. Teach your child to floss once a day.
Fluoride is an important component of cavity prevention because it has been proven to stop and even reverse early tooth decay. It minimizes bacteria’s ability to form the acid that eats away at the tooth and causes a cavity.
You can check with your water supply source to see if your water is fluoridated. You should also ensure that your child’s toothpaste has fluoride. Check with our dentist to see what kind of toothpaste to use if your child is 3 or younger. Typically, for very young kids, parents should only place a drop of toothpaste the size of a pea or smaller on the brush.
What your child eats matters not only for his or her overall health, but also for oral hygiene. Sugar and starches are especially responsible for causing cavities because bacteria use them to make acid. Limiting between-meal snacks and fruit juice is key to keeping your child’s teeth healthy. Children 1 to 6 years old should only get between 4 to 6 ounces of juice a day. Remember that real fruit offers more nutritional benefits.