Kids aren’t that great at taking care of their teeth. They always need to be reminded about brushing and flossing, and they love sugary foods that promote bacterial plaque and speed up tooth decay.
For this reason, it’s not uncommon for kids to get cavities. Remember how in 1990s kids’ cartoons, one of the most common plotlines was a child character being afraid about getting a cavity filled? Cavities are really common during childhood.
Unfortunately, some of the issue stems from genetic factors. In developed western countries, 20-25% of children account for over 50% of the incidences of dental caries (cavities). Genetics impact a person’s risk of cavities, and some people are just more prone to them than others.
With that said, though, there are still steps that you can take to minimize your child’s risk of cavities. Getting cavities filled can be expensive, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to keep them at bay. Here are seven simple ways to cavity proof your kids’ teeth.
1) Help them brush.
Almost as soon as they have teeth, you can start teaching your children good oral hygiene habits. Children under six should be supervised while they brush, and toddlers need a lot of assistance. Children 6-8 years old can brush by themselves, but you should probably supervise them to make sure they’re doing it correctly. For some reason, kids just don’t enjoy brushing their teeth, and they try to avoid it if they can. Like adults, they should brush twice a day with a toothpaste that contains fluoride.
2) Make sure they’re brushing long enough, with the right technique.
Kids should brush for about two minutes straight, using a circular motion to remove as much debris as possible from their mouth. Brushing regularly can greatly reduce their risk of cavities by removing plaque.
3) Make sure they floss, too.
Once a child has most of their teeth in, you should also floss their teeth. Flossing removes food particles, plaque, and other materials that build up between the teeth.
4) Make sure they get regular dental checkups.
Children should go to the dentist every six months for a routine cleaning and checkup. We recommend that this starts after their first tooth appears. Baby teeth do fall out eventually, but their health is still important. Healthy baby teeth help your child chew correctly and speak clearly, and unhealthy teeth could potentially get infected.
5) Use Fluoride
Fluoride is important for dental health. Fortunately, in most areas, the water is actually fluoridated. Contrary to what conspiracy theorists often claim, fluoride does not have any negative health effects. However, fluoride does help prevent tooth decay, which is why dentists recommend using a toothpaste that contains fluoride.
6) Make sure their sugar consumption is limited.
Dentists are notorious for doing stuff like giving out toothbrushes on Halloween, but we’re not saying your kid can never have candy or cake. However, it’s important that their sugar intake is relatively low. Not only does too much sugar promote tooth decay, but it’s also bad for human health in general. Most Americans are eating too much sugar, and they’re often unaware of it. Even fruit juice, which is often marketed as healthy and desirable for young children, contains a lot of sugar. Juice, juice-like fruit drinks (such as Minute Maid or Hi-C), and soda all contain a lot of sugar, and their intake should be limited.
At Blue Hills Dental, our job is to help you keep your children’s teeth healthy. Regular biannual check-ups and cleanings can help reduce their chances of developing a cavity. But in between, it’s important that you help them learn good oral hygiene and eat a balanced diet to reduce their risk of cavities and tooth decay.