As many people opt into staying home in order to fight off–or limit exposure to–the coronavirus, there’s one thing that still remains certain during all of this uncertainty: if the kids are at home, the kids are snacking.
As a parent, it’s very important to encourage your kids to get into healthy habits that promote oral health, especially if you and your family are staying home. Failure to do so can develop cavities–also referred to as tooth decay–which are one of the most common chronic childhood diseases in the US according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
If cavities go without treatment, it may lead to pain and infections that can result in issues with eating, speaking, playing, and learning. Your reliable McAllen dentists here at WhiteWing Dental believe that prevention is key, and today, we will explore five great ways you can use to help prevent tooth decay from damaging your child’s wonderful smile.
How A Cavity Forms
Before we go into the methods to avoid cavities, we want to give a brief explanation of how exactly a cavity develops. When a tooth is exposed to acid often, such as when you eat or drink foods or drinks filled with sugar and starches, those cycles of acid attacks weaken the enamel, causing it to continuously lose minerals.
Soon, a white spot may develop where the minerals have dissipated. This is a sign of initial decay, where tooth decay can be stopped or reversed at that point. While enamel cannot repair itself, per se, utilizing minerals from saliva and fluoride from toothpaste or other sources can, in a sense, patch up the cavities.
However, if the tooth decay continues to progress, more minerals will be lost. As time passes, the enamel grows weaker and deteriorates, thus developing a cavity, a permanent tooth condition that a dentist needs to repair through a filling.
Prevent Tooth Decay With These 5 Easy Steps
By following these steps, your child should be able to avoid getting cavities with no problem.
1. Use Fluoride
Fluoride is a mineral that can prevent tooth decay from worsening. It can also reverse, or pause the start of tooth decay.
Fluoride functions to protect teeth. It not only prevents the loss of minerals in tooth enamel but also replaces the lost minerals, which lessens the bacteria’s ability to produce acid. You can find fluoride in your toothpaste, as well as in a fluoride mouthwash.
2. Help Them Eat Right So They Can Smile Bright
Your child’s diet is essential when it comes to the prevention of a cavity. That’s why you should always pay close attention to how frequently your children eat along with what they eat. Here are some tooth-friendly tips to do just that:
- Limit snacking between meals. This minimizes the number of acid attacks on teeth and allows teeth to fix themselves.
- Only let them have candy, cookies, soda, and other sugary beverages for special occasions
- Ensure that your child doesn’t consume anything containing sugar after brushing their teeth. The flow of saliva decreases while we sleep, and without sufficient saliva, teeth are less capable of repairing themselves following an acid attack.
3. Don’t Hush Until They Brush
Don’t forget to supervise the youngins–ages 3 to 6–while they brush. Brushing with a fluoride toothpaste at least two or three times a day is crucial for preventing cavities. Use only a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste when you apply it to their toothbrush.
Children less than 6 years old have a tendency to swallow most of the toothpaste on their brush, so remind your little one to spit out the toothpaste and never swallow it. Until they reach the age of 7 or 8, you have to help them brush. Young children cannot get their teeth clean on their own. Try to brush your child’s teeth first, then give them a chance to finish on their own.
4. Talk to a dentist about sealants
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research recommends dental sealants as another promising approach to help prevent tooth decay. Sealants are thin, plastic coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of the molars.
Sealants can be helpful because the chewing surfaces of molars are tough and uneven due to their tiny pits and grooves. Food and bacteria can get trapped in these areas and remain there for a good amount of time since toothbrush bristles can’t reach them easily. Sealants cover these susceptible surfaces and create a protective barrier for the teeth.
As most cavities in kids and adolescents form in the molars, the best option is to have these teeth sealed when they start coming in: The first permanent molars erupt in between 5 and 7 years old, and the second permanent molars come in once the child is between 11 and 14 years of age.
5. Bring your Child to Our McAllen Family Dentist for Regular Check-ups
It is recommended that you see your dentist for cleanings and a thorough oral examination once every 6 months. Throughout the visit, our dentist or hygienist at WhiteWing Dental will:
- Remove dental plaque
- Check for any areas of early tooth decay
- Show you and your child how to properly clean their teeth
- Set up your next regular check-up
Cavity Prevention Takes Discipline and The Right Dentist
At WhiteWing Dental, our dental team understands that you want the best for your kids, and cavities are no fun for anyone, child or adult. All it takes is keeping up with these tips, being disciplined with proper oral hygiene, and finding the right dentist to protect those teeth to keep them strong and bright.