Moms-to-Be Play an Important Role!
Preventing your child's cavities begins before your child even has a tooth! It begins with mom. The better a mom-to-be takes care of her teeth, sees a dentist, and eats a healthy balanced diet, the better the oral health can be for your child.
There's a New Baby in the House
When caring for your child's mouth, begin before you can see the first tooth by massaging the gums with a brush or cloth. This establishes a routine for you and your child. It also allows your child to accept the idea of oral hygiene before the teeth begin to come in.
It's best to clean your child's teeth at least twice a day. Initially, this can be done with gauze or a washcloth. As more of your child's teeth come in, you'll want to graduate to a soft toothbrush and eventually, to help your child by flossing for them. The dentists in our office will demonstrate for you how each of these ages and stages of care can be done successfully!
The 8 Keys to Preventing Cavities
Regular Dental Visits
X-rays as Needed
Consistent Home care
A Diet That Limits Sugary, Starchy Foods and Drinks
Drinking Water Regularly
1. Regular Dental Visits
We often recommend that your child return to our office twice a year for preventive dental visits. There are times when we may request to see you child more or less frequently depending on their specific dental needs.
2. X-rays as Needed
X-rays are a preventive tool. They can help us identify the presence of cavities and any tooth or bony abnormalities. They also evaluate the eruption sequence of the teeth and potential for crowding—before a problem can be seen by the naked eye. Current safety techniques utilized in taking x-rays and the use of lead aprons limits the amount of radiation exposure. Dental disease that goes undetected and untreated can be more harmful to your child than the minimal exposure to radiation received when taking dental x-rays.
3. Consistent Home Care
It's best to begin cleaning your child's mouth before the teeth erupt. You can use gauze or a washcloth. Once teeth erupt, you can incorporate a soft bristled toothbrush with training toothpaste. As your child matures, you can introduce toothpaste containing fluoride and/or xylitol and eventually floss. It is best to brush at least twice a day, and the best time is after the last feeding or meal. Starting this practice and habit at a young age will help establish a routine for you and your child.
4. A Healthy Diet
A healthy diet is a balanced diet that naturally supplies all the nutrients your child needs to grow. A balanced diet is one that includes the following major food groups every day: fruits and vegetables; breads and cereals, milk and dairy products, meat, fish and eggs. Limit processed foods and promote fresh vegetables and fruits.
Foods that are not good for your child’s teeth are those that create an acid environment in the mouth, stick in the crevices of the molars, or adhere to the teeth. These include the following:
- Carbonated beverages, because the acid in the carbonation can cause damage to the teeth
- Snack items like potato chips, candies and pretzels that stick in the biting surface of the back teeth (molars)
- Sugary drinks like juices and energy drinks that pool in the gum pockets, causing tooth damage and decay at the gum lines and between the teeth
Not only is it important to be careful about what your child eats and drinks, but also when and how often they eat. Frequent or “at will” feeding of any carbohydrate, juice, milk, or snacks, can be damaging to the teeth because this allows less time for the mouth to create a non-acid environment where the teeth can re-mineralize and recover from any damage.
Sugar may also be added to condiments such as ketchup and salad dressings. Encourage your child to eat complex carbohydrates, including vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
5. Lots of Water
The best beverage choices include water (especially fluoridated water) and milk. It's especially important for kids to limit or avoid of sugar-containing drinks, including soft drinks, lemonade and sugary fruit juices. Day-long sipping of sugar-containing drinks exposes teeth to constant sugar and, in turn, constant decay-causing acids.
Fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral, can help strengthen teeth to either reverse or prevent the harmful effects of the acid produced by bacteria in the mouth. When using a toothpaste containing fluoride, it is best to use between a smear to pea-size amount on the brush.
A sealant is a thin liquid, tooth-colored plastic that flows into the grooves on the chewing surfaces of baby and permanent molars, creating an impenetrable physical barrier to prevent bacteria from entering into the deep crevices found on the teeth to cause cavities. Sealants have been used for several decades and can significantly reduce cavities.
Xylitol is a natural sugar that is structurally different than sugars that contribute to the development of cavities. In fact, Xylitol helps prevent cavities rather than cause them. It is a by-product of human glucose metabolism and can be found in birch trees, raspberries, lettuce, corn cobs, nutshells and other natural sources. It is recommended to have a total of 4-10 grams of Xylitol per day broken up into 3-5 times per day use. Too much Xylitol can cause gastrointestinal upset.
WARNING: Please keep products containing Xylitol away from dogs.