How can I help my child avoid tooth decay?

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It’s not uncommon for parents to want to know how they can help to prevent cavities and tooth decay in their kids’ teeth. They don’t always know how much dental care their children need and often have questions about the oral health routine of their little ones. Here at A Childrens Dentist, we want to support you and your family by providing information that you can use right away at home to give your children the best care possible.

Cavities and decay happen when bacteria from food is left on the teeth. Acid from this bacteria collects on the tooth surface, softening the enamel until a cavity is formed. Prevention is extremely important to maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Good dental hygiene can help avoid the problems that come with tooth decay and cavities.

You might be surprised to learn that even babies can develop tooth decay. Babies that suck on a bottle throughout the day are at risk for developing a condition known as “bottle mouth”. When the sugars in milk and juice remain on the baby’s teeth for long periods of time, they can eat away at the enamel resulting in pitted and discolored teeth. Kids with severe cases may develop cavities and often will need their front teeth pulled. We recommend that, even before your baby starts teething, you run a damp washcloth gently over the gums to remove harmful bacteria.

You’ll want to start brushing once your baby’s teeth start to come in. We suggest using an infant toothbrush with water and a tiny bit (the size of a grain of rice) of fluoride. Always select products and toothpaste that have the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval. No matter which type of toothpaste you use, make sure to use only a tiny amount to minimize the how much your child might swallow.

At around the age of two, your child should learn how to spit when brushing. Avoid giving your child water to swish before spitting because this makes swallowing more likely. Once your baby’s teeth start to touch each other, begin flossing gently between them. Kids three and up should use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste when brushing. Continue supervising children while brushing until they are able to brush independently without swallowing toothpaste, usually around the age of six.

The ADA recommends that children see a dentist by their first birthday. Your dentist will perform a modified exam for young children, who can sit on your lap usually. Your dentist will go over proper brushing and flossing techniques while evaluating if your child is at risk for cavities or other potential problems. A topical fluoride may be suggested to ward off common childhood oral diseases and decay.

As your child’s permanent teeth come in, your dentist may want to place sealants on the back teeth to keep bacteria from getting into hard-to-reach places.

Practicing good oral hygiene habits at home combined with having regular checkups can help prevent cavities, decay, and the need for future dental work. If you have any questions about your child’s oral health or to schedule an appointment please give us a call at (702) 255-0133.