Getting a dreaded cavity means your child is in pain, getting exposed to harmful bacteria, and increasing their likelihood of having further tooth issues when they’re older. Cavities can seem like less of a big deal before your child has adult teeth, but cavities and gum disease at any age have the potential to cause problems.
Staci Brunell, DMD, the pediatric dentist at Yorktown Pediatric Dentistry in Yorktown Heights, New York, believes prevention is the best strategy for dealing with cavities in children. Follow these seven easy strategies to prevent cavities and keep your child’s entire mouth healthy.
1. Start healthy tooth habits from birth
Keeping your child’s mouth healthy starts when they’re a newborn, even before they get their first teeth. In their first weeks and months of life, start by putting a damp washcloth on their gums after each feeding.
At this age, you can also avoid feeding your child sugar and sharing bottles with them, which prevents exposing them to potentially contaminated adult bacteria.
2. Brush and floss the recommended amount
Once your child starts getting their first baby teeth, you can begin brushing them with a soft-bristled brush and water. As they get older, begin brushing twice daily with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and a child-sized toothbrush for a period of two minutes.
You should brush your child’s teeth for your child when they’re under age 6. As they get older, teach them good habits to brush their teeth themselves they continue to use as teenagers and adults.
3. Eat a tooth-friendly diet
Eating a diet heavy in sugar and starchy, simple carbohydrates increases their susceptibility to developing cavities. To lower their risk, focus on feeding your child naturally sweet foods, such as fruit, and generally providing a healthy diet.
4. Make sure your child gets enough fluoride
Getting enough fluoride helps strengthen your child’s teeth and makes them less likely to get cavities. Most areas have tap water that includes fluoride, and you should also buy toothpaste with fluoride.
If your local area doesn’t offer water supplemented with fluoride, you can buy fluoride supplements to ensure your child gets enough.
5. Get sealants for your child’s teeth
Sealants are a coating our team puts on your child’s teeth, which makes it more difficult to get plaque and bacteria stuck in their teeth. This reduces your child’s risk of developing cavities.
Our team recommends your child get sealants as soon as they have their baby teeth. Getting sealants is a simple, painless 45-minute in-office procedure.
6. Treat cavities as soon as signs appear
If your child develops a cavity, getting it filled quickly prevents the cavity from worsening and reduces your child’s risk of developing further problems. Symptoms of cavities in children include:
- Tooth pain or sensitivity
- Your child is crying, acting fussy, or refusing food
- Spots on your child’s tooth
- Swelling in the mouth or gums
- A hole in the tooth
If your child shows signs of a potential cavity, bring them in for prompt evaluation and treatment at Yorktown Pediatric Dentistry.
7. Bring your child in for oral health check-ups
Once your child is 1 year old or has their first baby teeth, they should get dental cleanings every 6 months. This enables them to get a thorough, professional cleaning with our team while ensuring their teeth are and remain cavity-free.
If your child is under 2, our team recommends you bring them to a complimentary well baby visit to ensure they’re getting a healthy start on their oral health.
By following a few easy strategies, you can keep your child free of cavities and gum disease through infancy, childhood, and beyond. For assistance with your child’s oral hygiene, contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment.