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How to Prevent Cavities in Children

“Your child has a cavity” are words that no parent ever wants to hear. Cavities occur when bacteria and food left on the teeth after eating and drinking are not brushed away.  Acid collects and softens the enamel of the teeth until a hole, otherwise known as a cavity, forms. To avoid hearing those dreaded words, and to keep your kiddo’s teeth healthy, read on for some proven tips to help prevent cavities in children. 

  • It’s never too early to establish good oral hygiene habits.  
    • Even before your child’s first tooth comes in, you can prevent the formation of harmful bacteria by running a clean damp washcloth over their gums after feedings.  
    • As your baby’s teeth start to come in, brush them with an infant toothbrush and a very tiny bit of fluoride toothpaste. 
    • When two of your baby’s teeth touch, you can begin flossing between them.
    • NEVER put your baby to sleep with a bottle. Sugars from juice, formula or milk can eat away at the enamel on their teeth and cause major issues such as cavities, discoloration and decay. 
      • Switching from a bottle to a sippy cup with a hard spout or straw when your baby is about 6 months old will keep liquid and bacteria from pooling around their teeth and help prevent cavities. 
  • Teach your child to brush their teeth and floss, supervising until they are about 7-8 years old.
    • Make sure they brush their teeth twice a day and floss once a day. Making brushing and flossing fun activities can really help establish these good habits and prevent cavities in children! 
  • Make sure your kiddo is getting enough fluoride. 
    • Regular use of fluoride toughens enamel, making it harder for acid to penetrate.
    • Fluoride supplements may be a good alternative if your water supply is not fluoridated; however, make sure to check with your dentist about the proper amount to give. Too much fluoride can cause tooth discoloration. 
  • Limit sugary snacks and beverages. 
    • Sugary foods, juices, candy and other sticky snacks like gummies or fruit roll-ups, can erode tooth enamel and cause cavities. 
  • It is definitely hard to avoid these snacks and drinks altogether, so if your kid does partake in sugary, sticky foods, have them rinse their mouth with water or brush their teeth after eating to wash away the sugar. 
  • Don’t share your food and drink with your kiddos. 
    • Did you know that the bacteria that causes cavities can passed from one person to another?  To maintain the best oral health for both you and your child, it’s best to avoid sharing food, drinks and utensils. 
  • Have your kiddo drink lots of water and eat water-dense fruit. 
    • Fruits high in water content, such as watermelon, strawberries and cantaloupe help keep your child’s mouth hydrated and healthy.  Not to mention they are delicious!
  • As your child’s permanent teeth grow in, consider having your pediatric dentist apply a sealant to the back teeth, where most chewing occurs.  
    • Sealants form a protective coating and keep bacteria from making a home in the hard-to-reach nooks and crannies of molars. 
    • Just make sure that your kiddo knows that sealants aren’t a replacement for good brushing and flossing habits.
  • Schedule regular (at least twice per year) visits to the pediatric dentist. 
    • The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that children see a pediatric within six months of getting their first tooth or by their first birthday, whichever comes first.  
    • Visits to the dentist can find problems early on and help establish good oral health habits!