Sadly, tooth decay in children is a growing problem. According to the CDC, around half of all 6-8-year-olds have one or more cavities in their baby teeth.
Cavities shouldn’t be inevitable. But to protect your child’s teeth, it’s not enough to ensure that they brush twice a day.
You need to take several steps as a parent to avoid the pain and problems of tooth decay. We’ve created this guide to tell you how to prevent cavities in your child’s teeth.
Create a Daily Routine
Kids react well to routine, especially if you make it fun! So make sure teeth brushing is done at the same time of day, morning and night, so that it becomes an automatic habit for your child.
Ideally, you should get your child to brush their teeth in the morning after breakfast and last thing at night before bed.
To make it fun, why not choose a song they like and play this tune each time they brush their teeth? The song’s length will help ensure your child is brushing their teeth for as long as they should. And they’ll have fun dancing along!
Consider Fluoride Supplements
Your initial line of defense against cavities is protecting the top layer of enamel on your child’s teeth. That is why toothpaste contains fluoride, as it will strengthen that enamel and help protect teeth against decay.
However, toothpaste is the minimal option for protecting enamel. While your tap water might contain fluoride, it’s best to use a proper fluoride supplement.
Why not ask one of our specialists whether your child needs a fluoride supplement during your child’s next checkup with our team?
A popular alternative to supplements is a sealant that your child’s dentist will add to their teeth during a checkup. That provides a further level of protection to the enamel in-between visits.
Teach Good Brushing Technique
Sit down with your child to explain how to brush their teeth properly, as this will help create better lifelong habits with their oral hygiene.
Demonstrate how to brush each tooth and remind them how important it is to ensure they’ve cleaned the tooth properly before moving on to the next one. Kids tend to get into bad habits such as only brushing their front teeth!
Explain to your child how to brush their tongue. And when your child is old enough, show them how to floss their teeth.
Children should start flossing their teeth from two to six, depending on whether they have gaps in their teeth or whether their teeth fit closely together.
Watch Sugar Intake
It’s difficult to avoid sugar with children. You’ll already know that if you’ve had to take your child to another kid’s birthday party. What’s more, banning sugar altogether could be counterproductive in the long run.
But reducing sugary foods is one of the best steps you can take when considering cavity prevention for kids. It will also help establish better eating habits in the future.
Keep sugary sweets and treats for special occasions, not everyday consumption. And avoid sugary drinks as often as possible. Children should drink water or milk throughout the day.
Don’t forget to read nutritional labels on foods. You might get a surprise the next time you read the ingredients on a product marketed as a healthy snack!
Minimize highly acidic foods, too, as these can damage the enamel of the teeth.
A good example is fresh orange juice. If you want to boost the vitamin C intake of your child, get them to eat the whole orange instead of as a juice. The pulp will provide added fiber, too, so it has superior health benefits.
Don’t forget that manufacturers like to add sugar to medicines and vitamins to make them more palatable for children. Always get your child to brush their teeth after they’ve had liquid medicine or vitamin gummies.
There is one type of sugary food that is the most dangerous for tooth cavities, and that’s chewy or sticky sweets such as toffee. These cling to the teeth, leaving a sugar coating on your child’s enamel even after brushing.
Ditch the Sippy Cups
If your child drinks juice or milk from a sippy cup, that drink tends to coat the front teeth and cause more cavities than if they drink from a glass.
When your child reaches an age where they can hold a cup, get them to practice sipping that way rather than through a sippy cup or straw.
There might be spilling accidents initially, but you’ll be surprised at how quickly they master this. And it will ultimately help prevent cavities in kids, so it’s worth the time and effort.
If your child frequently goes to bed with a bottle or sippy cup, try and get them out of that habit. Instead, get your child to drink a cup of water one hour before bedtime.
That will stop them from getting thirsty during the night, and they will quickly get out of the habit of drinking at nighttime, which can cause damage to the teeth.
Book Regular Checkups
Your child should have checkups at least twice a year with a dentist for the best cavity prevention.
At KP Dentistry, the best way we can help prevent your child from experiencing the pain and complications of tooth decay is to spot problems early. Always make sure you have a checkup with our team in your diary.
Early damage to the tooth enamel will allow us to take preventative steps at the first sign of delay before the damage reaches the pulp and nerves.
Without that early intervention, a cavity can increase, causing a painful toothache. With cases of severe decay, it might even require a total tooth extraction in the case of baby teeth.
How to Prevent Cavities
Finding out your child has a cavity can feel distressing for many parents, especially if your son or daughter is in pain. So use this guide on how to prevent cavities to ensure you stay on top of an excellent oral routine.
And remember that your first step is to book an appointment with our team so one of our expert pediatric dentists can check your child and give you our professional support.