Children tend to get cavities more often than adults. In fact, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease seen in children aged 6 to 11, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This can be due to several factors, including eating too many sugary treats or not brushing teeth thoroughly enough. As a parent, it is up to you to keep your child's oral health in check. Here are seven ways to help your child avoid cavities:
Make Toothbrushing More Fun
Many children do not brush their teeth for the recommend two minutes. They might think it is a tedious activity and want to get it over as fast as possible. One thing you can do to encourage more thorough brushing is to make the task more enjoyable. For example, you could play one of your child's favorite two-minute songs and have them brush their teeth until the song is over. You could also buy your child a flavored toothpaste, like strawberry or bubblegum so they look forward to brushing more.
Educate Your Child About the Importance of Oral Hygiene
If your child is old enough to talk, they are ready to learn about the importance of good oral hygiene practices. Once they understand how vital it is to keep up with their oral health, they will be more likely to take brushing and flossing more seriously. Talk to your child about all the oral health diseases, such as gum disease and tooth decay, and stress how good oral hygiene can prevent them.
Keep Sweets Out of the House
It's no surprise that children love sweets. Unfortunately, eating sugary treats too often can increase cavities. Sugar tends to linger on the surfaces of teeth for a while, which attracts bacteria. To prevent your child from eating too many sweets, simply keep sugary treats out of the house. Allow your child a treat occasionally, but make sure they rinse their mouth out with water afterward.
Tell Your Child Not to Share Food and Drinks with Others
Kids often share their food and drinks with each other during their lunch hour at school. You should discourage this practice because it can lead to cavities. If your child shares a food or beverage with another child who has a cavity, bacteria can transfer to your child's mouth and cause a cavity to develop.
Encourage Your Child to Eat More Crisp Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables do not just help children fight off viruses; they can also improve the health of their teeth. Vegetables and fruits that have a crisp texture are especially beneficial because they increase saliva flow and help remove plaque from teeth. Start feeding your child pears, carrots, celery and apples more frequently.
Don't Skip Dental Visits
When your child is being especially whiny about going to the dentist's office, it may be tempting to just stay home. However, this is a big mistake. No matter how much your child resists, make sure they visit the dentist every six months for a checkup. The dentist can check for early signs of cavities and see if there are any other oral issues to worry about.
Consider Dental Sealants
If your child seems to get cavities every year no matter what you do, ask their dentist about dental sealants. These sealants are placed over the biting surfaces of teeth and guard against plaque and bacteria.
Cavities do not have to be in your child's future. If you become more involved in their oral hygiene routine, you can keep your child's mouth healthy and reduce their visits to the dentist's office. For more advice, talk to a pediatric dentist at a dental office like Hoffman & Karl Dental Associates, PLLC.