Tooth decay is a common occurrence among children of all ages. Unfortunately, cavities not only lead to pain and possible tooth loss, but they also set children up for a future of oral health problems. Tooth decay contains bacteria that may spread from under teeth and into the surrounding gum tissues, which can cause inflammation and possibly an abscess. It can be challenging to figure out the best way to care for your children's teeth and gums, and as a result, many parents underestimate the importance of maintaining good dental health and the importance of routine visits to a pediatric dentist. To help protect children's teeth from the consequences of cavities, here are a few tips to avoid cavities.
Practice Good Oral Hygiene
In most situations, a kid's dentist recommends that children over the age of 3 should brush their teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Infant toothpaste without fluoride should be used for children under the age of 3. To keep infant and babies mouth clean, you should wash your child's gums with a clean, soft cloth and water. As children are learning to brush on their own, it is beneficial to encourage and motivate kids to brush their teeth by making it fun. Some ways to make brushing fun may include:
- Letting them select a toothbrush with their favorite character or color on it
- Letting them use a battery-powered toothbrush
- Creating a brushing routine by allowing children to brush first, followed by a turn of brushing by you
- Offering flavored toothpaste
- Letting them brush to their favorite song or dental video
Flossing should begin when children are about 2-3 years of age. Children typically need help with flossing until they are about 8-10 years old. If you are having difficulties teaching children how to floss, ask your pediatric dentist for recommendations on flossing techniques. Flossing helps remove debris on teeth, in-between teeth, and on the gums, polishes tooth surfaces, and helps to control bad breath. Flossing is usually most effective when it is done at least once a day.
Encourage Nutritious Foods
What children eat and how often they eat has a significant impact on their overall health as well as their oral health. Consuming foods that are high in starch or sugar feeds the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Parents who help promote healthy eating habits throughout their kid's childhood and teen years will in turn help promote optimal oral health. Encourage plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and offer water frequently, especially after meals to help rinse teeth and gums.
Put Dental Sealants on Teeth
Dental sealants are a thin, plastic film that is "painted" on chewing surfaces of the back teeth, which are highly susceptible to collecting food debris and getting plaque buildup. Dental sealants are highly effective in the prevention of tooth decay because it prevents the supply of nutrients to the bacteria that cause cavities. Talk with your kid's dentist about sealants when teeth are newly erupted for the best protection.
Along with good oral hygiene habits, it is important to schedule routine checkups with a pediatric dentist. Children should begin regular dental visits beginning at around the age of 12 months. It is important for children's teeth to be examined twice a year for signs of gum disease, tooth decay, and other dental problems. Talk to a children's dentist to learn more.