How to Help Your Kids Prevent Cavities

While preventing cavities in your own mouth requires diligence in oral hygiene and dietary choices, preventing cavities in your children’s mouths requires even more of your attention.  Unfortunately, it is not like teaching your child to tie his own shoes and then trusting him to do it correctly every morning.  Preventing cavities involves a complex decision-making process, in addition to the physical teeth-cleaning techniques.

This blog will help you understand the things you can do to keep your children’s teeth as healthy as possible.

Take Them to the Dentist

Establishing a consistent routine with dental visits is invaluable in preventing cavities.  The professional teeth cleanings remove dangerous cavity-causing bacteria from the teeth and gums.  The dentist and dental hygienist recognize red flags or suspicious areas that are high risk for cavities.  We give you and your child tips on improving oral hygiene techniques, and we recommend various preventive dental treatments that keep the teeth healthy and cavity-free (like fluoride treatments and sealants.

Oversee their Oral Hygiene Routine

Let’s face it.  Many kids are clueless when it comes to the right way to brush and floss.  Even when your child does know the proper oral hygiene regimen, you still need to oversee the process.  He might forget or rush through it.  Children should not be solely responsible for oral hygiene until they can tie their own shoelaces and write their names in cursive.  This is much later than most parents think.

Before they reach this point, you should help them brush and floss properly.  And by “help them”, we mean do it for them.  Sure, you can let your child brush her own teeth for a bit, but you always need to follow-up to ensure that there’s been good plaque removal!

Once they are capable of brushing and flossing on their own, make sure to check in periodically to confirm that they are, in fact, doing it every day.  Every once in a while, you also need to inspect the results of their brushing and flossing.  (Using plaque indicator chewable tablets is a great way to check their effectiveness at removing plaque!)

Some signs that you should intervene in their oral hygiene routine:

  • Bad breath
  • Visible plaque (soft, fuzzy white buildup on the teeth)
  • Puffy, red gums

Provide them with Healthy Snack Choices

Kids do not buy groceries, so you can control what they snack on at home.  We know that simple carbohydrates feed the bacteria that cause cavities.  This means that chips and crackers, as well as high-sugar foods like cookies and cake, increase the risk for cavities.  Complex carbohydrates, like those found in vegetables, are tougher for bacteria to digest, so they carry a lower risk for cavities.

Foods with protein and fat also carry a low cavity risk, so snacks like nuts and cheese are a wonderful alternative to those carb-loaded chips and crackers.

Limit their Access to High-Sugar Food & Drinks

Cavities start when the bacteria in plaque eat sugar and produce acid on the surface of enamel.  This acid slowly weakens and softens the enamel so that bacteria can penetrate into the tooth.  Plaque removal is important to remove these bacteria from the mouth.  The bad news is that plaque constantly accumulates on the teeth, so we not only need to remove it in order to prevent cavities.  We also need to starve those bacteria.  Limiting your child’s access to sugary foods and drinks will help them prevent cavities.

This does not mean you can never give your kids a soda or some candy.  The best time to enjoy something that contains lots of sugar is during mealtime.  Your body produces a large quantity of saliva during meals that helps counteract the effect of the sugar + bacteria + acid.  Candy should be a dessert, not an in-between-meals snack.

More Questions about Cavity Prevention?

Call 940-382-1750 today to schedule a visit with Dr. Chowning.  He can answer all of your questions about cavities and cavity risk for both you and your children.

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