How to Prevent Cavities in Children

How to Prevent Cavities in Children

Children Dentist TipsTooth decay in children is on the rise, but Canada is not the only country to see an upsurge in the number of five year olds starting school with one or more cavities.

Maintaining a healthy smile in children is something many parents want to achieve. The good news is that with a regular oral hygiene routine and wise food choices, your child can avoid tooth decay.

Follow this six-point plan from the team at Signal Hill Dental Centre to keep cavities at bay!

#1 Brushing

Brushing is the first line of defense when it comes to looking after your child’s teeth and getting them into a routine early makes all the difference.

  • Brush your child’s teeth twice a day – in the morning and before bed.
  • Fluoride toothpaste – using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste but ensure they don’t swallow it.
  • Supervised brushing – you should continue to help and/or supervise the brushing of your child’s teeth until they are nine years of age, at least.
  • Replace their toothbrush – replacing their toothbrush every three months is essential to keep bacteria at bay and, always change the toothbrush after a cold or other illness.
  • Before the first tooth arrives – using a small toothbrush or silicone bristled finger cap, introduce and build the habit of brushing teeth as soon as possible!
#2 Flossing

Flossing is an important part of your dental routine, and should be part of your child’s routine too because flossing reaches parts of the teeth that brushing cannot;

  • Once a day – help your child to floss one a day, using floss between the teeth as well as gently curving along the gum line.
#3 Great Diet = Great Teeth

We all know the importance and the benefits of following a healthy diet, but you may not realize how much damage some of the foods we consume and the things we drink have on our teeth.

For toddlers, feeding them during the night can be a common occurrence up until they reach school age. Some of these liquids we give our children – milk formula, breastmilk, juice, soda etc. – are all sweet. And this means the saliva in the mouth turns the sugar into acid, which attacks the teeth. Continued unchecked for a long period can lead to severe cavities.

The solution is to stop feeding during the night when possible, encouraging your child to sleep with water (if they need a drink for comfort). It will take time and patience to encourage your child to forgo their nightly bottle of milk and, if you have any concerns, always seek advice for your doctor before making any changes.

#4 Hidden Sugars

We associate sugar with candy – and you are not wrong! – but sugar is an additional ingredient in many foods, some that you wouldn’t expect.

Bacteria which is naturally present in the mouth coverts the sugars in our food into acid – and it is this acid which causes cavities.

  • Watch for hidden sugars – sugars occur in both natural and processed foods. Check the label of processed foods such as potato chips, crackers, peanut butter, your favorite sauce etc. for the level of sugar.
  • Decrease sugar intake – this doesn’t mean your child not having sugar at all but limiting the frequency of sugar-laden snacks to no more than 2 or 3 portions a week. By reducing sugar in your child’s diet, you are reducing their chances of cavities.
#5 Eat Smart

Now that you have identified which foods in your child’s diet have a high sugar content, you can start making smarter choices about when they eat them.

Reducing sugary snacks makes a huge difference, as can eating these foods as part of a meal, rather than as a snack. This is because the saliva in the mouth helps to wash away the sugars, as does drinking water during and after a meal.

Avoid sticky foods, such as fruit snacks and toffees, as these are not easily washed away by saliva.

#6 Fluoride

Although unfortunately not in Calgary, nearly half of the Canadian population will drink fluorinated public water boasting one of the highest rate in the world.

Fluoride is known for its beneficial effects on keeping teeth in adults and children, strong and healthy. Therefore, most dentists recommend that you and your children use a fluoride toothpaste.

Fluoride works alongside a healthy diet and good oral hygiene routine by preventing cavities by slowing the breakdown of enamel tooth with a strong enamel is more resistant to bacterial acid – and this means less cavities.

Take away points

If you have any concerns about your child’s teeth see your dentist at Signal Hill Dental Centre, but cavities can largely be prevented by small, simply changes;

  1. Brush your child’s teeth twice a day
  2. Encourage your child to floss once a day
  3. Make dietary changes – eat less sugar
  4. Look for hidden sugars in food
  5. Eat smarter, consuming sugary foods as part of a meal to decrease their impact on teeth
  6. Make sure you are using fluoride toothpaste to keep enamel strong