Tips for Cavity Prevention in Children

Cavities remain the most common disease among children and adolescents — four times more common than asthma. Fortunately, dental cavities are also one of the most preventable diseases, especially in children because parents can help their kids fend off tooth decay. 

If you’re wondering how to prevent cavities in children, Dr. Michael Hinh of Sac Dentist explains his best tips for keeping your child’s teeth strong and healthy. 

Tips for preventing cavities in children

  1. Start on day one

Your child’s oral health begins before his or her teeth even appear. By the time your baby is born, there may already be 20 primary teeth formed in his or her jaw: They’re just underneath the gums. To keep your baby’s mouth clean when there are no teeth, run a damp washcloth over the gums to clear away any bacteria and residue. You can do this multiple times each day.

As your baby’s teeth start to appear, brush them with an infant-sized toothbrush with water and a rice grain-sized dollop of children’s toothpaste. Once the teeth touch, you can gently floss in between them.

  1. Teach good brushing and flossing skills 

Once your child gets old enough to understand brushing and flossing and has the mechanical ability to try it on their own, teach him or her how to do so properly. Make sure your little one brushes the front, back, and chewing surfaces of all their teeth. At first, you may have to physically guide their hands to ensure they clean each tooth. 

When it comes to flossing, show your child how you floss your own teeth. Then, floss your child’s teeth. Finally, have them try it on their own. Make sure he or she knows to brush at least twice a day and floss at least once a day.

  1. See a dentist by their first birthday 

The American Dental Association recommends that all babies see a dentist before their first birthday. This opens up the floor for discussion about pediatric oral hygiene and gives your dentist a chance to check for tooth decay, which can occur even in infants. This also gives you a chance to develop a relationship with a pediatric dentist and establish a dental care routine for your baby.

  1. Limit sweet snacks and sugary juices

You don’t have to be one of those parents who never lets your child eat sugar, but you should make an effort to keep sugar consumption low — for both oral hygiene and general health. At the very least, you should encourage scheduled sugar consumption in your household; for instance, only eating sweets after dinner. Otherwise, encourage your children to rinse their mouth or brush their teeth after eating sweets or drinking sugary beverages. 

  1. Don’t send babies or children to bed with milk or juice

You might feel tempted to send a distressed baby to sleep with a bottle or allow older children to doze off with warm milk. Even though the beverage might pacify your child, it can lead to a condition called bottle mouth, which occurs when sugars from milk or juice remain on a baby’s teeth for too long. The result is damage to the enamel and eventually tooth decay. 

  1. Supervise to ensure older children retain their skills

As children become more independent, they’ll likely express interest in brushing and flossing on their own. However, you should continue to supervise your child and check for good brushing and flossing skills until the age of 8. Most children don’t have the mechanical abilities to brush properly until the age of 8-10. 

  1. Consider getting sealants on permanent teeth

As primary teeth start to fall out and permanent teeth begin to emerge, your dentist may recommend sealants. These thin coatings of resin are applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, and they protect deep crevices that are prone to food residue and bacteria buildup. Applying dental sealants can prevent up to 80 percent of cavities.

Our friendly dentists and hygienists welcome you and your family to come see us. To schedule a dental checkup for your child, call our office in Sacramento, California, or use the handy online booking tool

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