Like summer camp and birthday parties, getting that first cavity sometimes seems almost like a rite of childhood. But a kid's dentist can tell you that cavities don't have to be inevitable. You might not realize just how much you can do to prevent those destructive little holes on your children's teeth. Prevention is always better than having to treat a cavity, and it's less expensive.
Your mouth has a natural protective system: saliva contains minerals that help prevent cavities, and the constant flow of saliva helps wash teeth clean. When you eat a lot of starches or sugars, however, they combine with the bacteria in your mouth to create acids that eat away at the tooth enamel. Eventually, a weak spot develops and a cavity is born.
There are simple things you can do to help your young ones avoid cavities. Here are the top five strategies for cavity prevention.
Avoid Bottle Mouth
Cavity prevention starts with the bottle. Never put juice, soda or other sweetened drinks in your child's bottle. You should also refrain from putting your child down for a nap with a bottle unless it contains only water. When a child goes to bed or down for a nap sucking on a bottle, the sugars in milk or juice can soak the teeth in a cavity-promoting liquid for hours. These sugars cause acid formation, which eat away at the tooth enamel and greatly increases the risk of cavities.
Start Tooth Care Early
Even before your baby gets teeth, you can run a clean, damp washcloth over his or her gums to help decrease harmful bacteria. Once teeth do appear, brush them with an infant toothbrush and the toothpaste your dentist recommends.
Keep Away From Sugar
Sugar is very hard on teeth, particularly in the form of sugar-sweetened drinks and hard or sticky candies. Slowly sipping at a sweet drink is just like sucking on a bottle; it leaves the teeth soaking in a sugar solution for long periods of time. Many soft drinks contain acids that can also erode tooth enamel. Sucking on a hard candy is another way to bathe the teeth in sugar, while sticky candy like toffee or taffy adheres to the teeth, leaving the sugar in contact until it dissolves.
As soon as your child's teeth have grown enough to touch each other, you should begin flossing them. Older children can floss their own teeth, although you might need to supervise to make sure it's done correctly. Ideally your child should brush after each meal and before bedtime, but in practice most parents are likely to shoot for having their little ones brush twice per day.
Schedule Routine Dentist Visits
Regular dental care and cleaning serves several purposes. Your children become accustomed to the dentist and feel comfortable rather than apprehensive. Plus, regular dental cleanings help prevent excessive tartar, which can lead to cavities. Call us at Wright Smiles Dentistry to schedule an appointment, for advice about dental care or to learn how to floss and brush properly.