How Can I Protect My Children From Cavities?

Cavities can be a real problem for a child’s health, even when they still have baby teeth. Unfortunately, many parents struggle to provide children with effective ways to avoid tooth decay and to prevent cavities. In fact, the question we hear most often from parents is “How can I protect my children from cavities?”

Regular visits to a dentist with pediatric experience is, of course, vital, but you need to prioritize dental health every day, not just twice a year when you take the kids to see us. Luckily, there are four simple but effective tactics that you can embrace to prevent cavities year-round.

1. Enforce brushing twice a day, every day.

The best way to prevent cavities is with regular brushing and tooth care, yet many parents struggle to enforce preventative oral care. Make sure to prioritize brushing before school and before bed every day, and be careful to set a good example by brushing regularly yourself. If your child is resisting, it may be worth considering incentives that give your child additional reasons to brush, such as stickers or other bonuses.

2. Use regular toothpaste with fluoride once your child is old enough to spit it out, not children’s toothpaste.

Many parents assume that children’s toothpaste is ideal for kids of any age, but the reality is that most are designed for very small children, not yet old enough to brush properly. Many of such toothpastes are not strong enough to totally eliminate the bacteria that can cause cavities. Once your child is old enough to spit out toothpaste while brushing, toothpastes with a normal amount of fluoride are ideal. You’ll better fight off cavities and prevent tooth decay. If you are concerned about the ingredients or flavors of regular toothpastes, we’d be happy to discuss some alternative options with you the next time you visit our offices.

3. Maintain a healthy diet— one without lots of sugary foods.

According to the American Dental Association, your child’s diet greatly affects how quickly tooth decay develops. The main culprit in cavity development is sugar. The best way to reduce your child’s risk of cavities is to cut out unnecessary sugars such as cake and candy as much as possible. If you allow your children to indulge in sweets occasionally then the length of time that sugar sits on the teeth can also be a factor. Drinking a soda in five minutes and then rinsing with water is not nearly as bad as sipping a soda for 3 hours. Keep in mind also that even healthy sources of sugar, such as fruit, can cause cavities. Reduce this risk by serving kids fruit with the skin still on. The skin contains vital nutrients, and as an added bonus, it helps clean the teeth!

4. Protect permanent teeth with dental sealants.

Once your child starts losing baby teeth and growing permanent teeth in their place, it’s time to look into sealants. Dental sealants are a thin plastic coating over the chewing surfaces on your child’s back teeth, and they can prevent cavities in the places they are most common. When your child is old enough to get sealants, we will let you know that it is an option.

If you consistently do these four things, your children’s oral health will be in the best shape possible. Remember to ask your dentist if there are any other practices that may help keep your child’s teeth cavity-free. Depending on their age, we may be able to suggest additional things you can do to prevent cavities, such as flossing. At Kantor Dental, we believe that your child’s dental health is so important. Come talk to us to see how we can work together to prevent cavities from becoming a problem in your child’s life.