Your child’s oral health is an important part of their overall well-being. Oral health problems such as cavities can cause pain and discomfort which can then lead to chewing problems, an appearance of poor dental hygiene, and occasional absences from school. One of the best ways to help children prevent cavities is to encourage good oral hygiene habits when they’re young. For example: brushing after meals and sugary snacks, promoting healthy food choices, and visiting the dentist regularly.
The following are 12 things that may help children prevent cavities.
1. Limit sugary snacks and drinks
2. Promote healthy food choices
3. Avoid frequent snacking or sipping on drinks (other than water) throughout the day
4. If you put your child to bed with a bottle or cup, fill it with water only
5. Dilute sugary fruit juices and sports drinks with water
6. Teach children how to brush properly
7. Get your child excited about good oral hygiene by reading books and watching videos about keeping teeth healthy and visiting the dentist
8. Ask your pediatric dentist about using plaque-disclosing tablets to help children learn to brush their teeth more thoroughly
9. Be a good role model and practice good oral hygiene habits yourself
10. Brush your teeth alongside your children
11. Have your child visit a pediatric dentist regularly
12. Ask your pediatric dentist about dental sealants for your child’s teeth
When we eat and drink, the sugar in our food combines with the bacteria in our mouths to form acid. This acid then attacks our teeth and can weaken and damage the tooth enamel which can then lead to cavities. By reducing the frequency of snacks and limiting the amount of sugary foods and drinks consumed, parents can help their children develop well-balanced eating habits and prevent cavities. Additionally, teaching and encouraging children to brush their teeth after meals and snacks is highly beneficial. Parents can teach their children how to properly care for their oral health by brushing their teeth with them and by practicing good oral hygiene habits themselves.
The frequency of snacks can also be a contributing cause of cavities. Frequent eating or sipping of drinks (other than water) throughout the day prolongs the acid attacks on the tooth enamel and may lead to cavities. If your child uses a sippy cup, fill it with water only and try to teach them to use a regular cup as soon as they are old enough. Additionally, if your child goes to bed with a bottle or cup, make sure it only contains water, since fruit juices and milk contain sugar that may lead to tooth decay and cavities if left on the teeth overnight.
Proper brushing and flossing, healthy food choices, and regular visits to a pediatric dentist are some of the best ways to prevent cavities in children. Involving them in their own oral health care and reading books about proper oral hygiene and visits to the dentist may be a beneficial way to prevent cavities and lessen any apprehensions children may have about dentist visits. And always remember to be a good role model and practice good oral hygiene habits yourself.
And as Dr. Cobb always says: good oral hygiene habits, combined with healthy food choices and bi-annual checkups are the best way to prevent tooth decay.