Cavities develop when sugars and starches feed bacteria in the mouth and produce acid to erode important tooth enamel. Once a cavity forms, it is permanent damage that must be repaired with a filling from a dentist.
By strengthening and cleaning teeth before decay can occur, you can often avoid cavities altogether. Cleaning and strengthening teeth are some of the best practices to follow for preventing cavities in children.
- Use Fluoride
Fluoride is a mineral that stalls tooth decay, and can even reverse or stop the process in its early stages. It replaces lost minerals and reduces bacteria’s ability to make harmful acid. Most community water sources and toothpastes contain fluoride, since it is so essential.
- Think About What They Eat
Frequently eating foods with sugar or starches increases the production of bacteria and acids. In contrast, limiting sugary drinks and food decreases the amount of bacteria in your child’s mouth. To ensure that food won’t have the chance to sit on your child’s teeth for long, reduce snacking between meals and do not allow food or drink after bedtime brushing.
- Brushing Teeth
Always brush teeth twice per day using a small amount of fluoride toothpaste. For best results, help your child brush their teeth until they have the dexterity to do so themselves, and supervise the process after that.
- Consider Dental Sealants
Sealants fill in the grooves on the surfaces of teeth to help prevent food from being trapped in spaces too small for a toothbrush to clean. Permanent molars are rough and uneven, which make them prone to cavities, so make sure to ask your dentist about dental sealants on older children’s back teeth.
- Watch for White Spots
White spots on teeth can sometimes indicate early tooth decay, and form where minerals have been lost and the structure of the tooth has been weakened. If caught in time, cavities may still be prevented at this stage.
- Regular Dentist Checkups
Schedule regular visits to the dentist for cleanings and examinations to get ahead of cavity formation. The dentist can remove plaque, check for tooth decay, and remind you and your child on proper brushing techniques while also answering any questions you may have regarding your child’s oral health.
Learning how to take good care of your child’s teeth is the best way to prevent cavities and dental problems later on in their lives. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, cavities can still occur in young children.
Check back soon for more on treatment options for children with cavities.