There is one dreaded line we all wish to avoid when we’re at the dentist’s office: “You have a cavity.” Getting a filling is probably low on your child’s list of things they’d like to do on any given day, which is just one of the reasons why it’s important to have a cavity prevention plan with their young one. Dental health is critically important at any age, and addressing cavities is a must.
Here are some ideas we like to give to parents who are looking to help their children to prevent cavities.
1. Have a strict brushing regimen in the morning and at night.
Brushing is the number one way to prevent cavities, and it’s important to brush twice a day. It’s easiest to remember to do this when you can ‘habit stack,’ meaning you associate brushing with another part of the morning and the evening.
Ideally, your child should brush right when they wake up. This is best because overnight, bacteria can begin to grow in the mouth, and addressing this immediately with a morning brush is paramount. So, attach this habit to a daily routine like breakfast. Make sure your child has brushed their teeth before their first bite of breakfast.
The same can be true at night. Make sure it’s part of the full bedtime routine, attached to a bath or shower or putting on their pajamas.
2. Have a conversation with your child about how cavities are formed.
Many parents worry about their kid’s day at school, when they aren’t brushing their teeth and may be indulging in sweets that cause bacteria to flourish. The same can be true for sleepovers, sleepaway camps, and other times when you can’t check in with your child to make sure they’re brushing adequately.
This is where a conversation comes in handy. Kids are able to form logical connections between their actions and consequences. Explain to them why brushing is so important, and what can happen if they get a cavity (a trip to the dentist for a filling, but when left untreated, a cavity can result in the decay of the entire tooth). This will logically remind them to brush their teeth even when you’re not there.
3. Fluoride and flossing are important, too!
While brushing is great, it’s also important to bring flossing and fluoride into the oral health daily regiment. Flossing helps to prevent the buildup of plaque between the teeth, which can prevent cavities. Rinsing with fluoride after brushing and flossing provides an ‘armour’ for the teeth to prevent against the natural bacteria growth that occurs overnight.
Help your child to understand what each of these practices does to help them and to prevent cavities, then do your part in helping to build the habit. Some parents try sticker charts, where kids are awarded a sticker for each day they completed their full oral routine, and a certain number of stickers can earn something. Get creative with how you support the habit.
Kids do not have to ever have cavities. They are entirely, 100% preventable with the right dental care and biannual trips to the dentist. However, if they do, we're here to help.