With roughly two weeks until Halloween, it’s a great time to talk about cavity prevention with your kids. As with all things, moderation is key. There’s no one saying that your young kids or teens can’t enjoy a piece of candy or two on one of the most fun holidays of the year.
However, candy does increase the risk of cavities. By following a few of our best practices, you can help your little ones enjoy the holiday without worry and help their teeth stay in great shape, even if they’ve enjoyed one Snickers bar too many.
Cavity Prevention for Kids
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), just over 50 percent of kids between ages 6 and 8 have developed a cavity in their baby teeth. For preteens and teens between the ages of 12 to 19, over half have gotten a cavity in the permanent teeth.
Leaving a cavity without treatment can be painful and lead to an infection beneath the gums, which can transfer to other areas in your child’s body. It can also cause problems with your child at school by preventing them from engaging with other students, focusing on their schoolwork, or enjoying a simple meal.
Here are some of our best cavity prevention tips for kids:
Create a consistent oral care routine.
Your child’s dental care routine may vary based on their age, but the steps are generally the same for young kids and teens. Here are some suggestions for your child:
- Make sure they brush their teeth for two minutes morning and night.
- Help your child or show them how to floss once per day after their teeth are close together.
- Choose an ADA-approved cavity prevention toothpaste, such as AIM Cavity Protection Gel, Colgate Kids Maximum Cavity Protection, or Crest Kids SparkleFun Cavity Protection.
Until your child turns 3, they should use a rice-sized amount of toothpaste. After that, they’re safe to up that to a pea-sized quantity of toothpaste. If your child is young, it’s necessary to monitor them while brushing their teeth to make sure they deposit any excess toothpaste in the sink instead of swallowing it.
Limit sweet drinks (soda, juice, etc.) and foods (candy, cookies, etc.).
One of the best ways on how to prevent tooth decay naturally is to only consume sugary foods and beverages in moderation. Sugar and bacteria in the mouth create acid, which breaks down your enamel and leads to tooth decay. (Learn more here.)
However, we wouldn’t expect you to keep sweets out of the house completely, especially at Halloween time. What you can do is have your child drink water while eating.
Also, ask them to brush 30 to 60 minutes after consuming sugar to make sure all the sugar is gone. Encourage your child to apply the 30-minute to 60-minute wait rule anytime they eat sweets, not just on Halloween.
Request a fluoride treatment.
You can ask your child’s dentist to use a fluoride treatment, which hardens the outside part of the teeth and helps deter approximately 33 percent of cavities in baby teeth.
The dentist will use a brush to put fluoride on each tooth. Afraid that your child won’t like it? Don’t worry. We have flavored fluoride treatments to protect baby teeth, and your child won’t feel a thing. It also doesn’t take long for the varnish to set, so your child will be back to playing before they know it.
Once it has set, the dentist will ask your child to hold off on drinking or eating anything for a half-hour or so. That’s all it takes to help your little one fight off cavities before they start.
Cleaning molars is one of the hardest tasks for a child. They’re far back in the mouth, and due to their odd shape, they’re an easy place for bacteria and food remnants to linger.
The solution? Sealants. A sealant is a safe plastic coating that goes over the top of the teeth in the back of your child’s mouth.
Reports show that sealants can decrease the chance of a tooth cavity by as much as 80 percent in the molars. Additional research shows that children in school with sealants have three times fewer cavities than those who do not have sealants.
Visit your dentist regularly.
The first dental visit should happen once your child gets their first tooth or after they turn 1. This appointment focuses on helping your little one get accustomed to the dentist.
It also provides a good opportunity for the dentist to inspect your child’s teeth, instruct you on proper brushing for your child, and clean those pearly whites if necessary. At age 2, your child should have another dental visit. Then, biannual visits should happen after age 3.
Two dental appointments per year can help the dentist spot cavities early on and suggest preventive treatment measures. Also, if your child becomes anxious at the thought of going to the dentist, coming more often can make those visits much easier.
Cavity prevention starts with proper brushing and flossing, but it doesn’t stop there. Limiting sweets, establishing a good dental care regimen, and getting sealants can help, too.
Don’t forget to schedule your child a dentist appointment twice each year after they turn 3 to help them maintain the best dental care. It’s a great way to keep those pesky cavities away and help them feel more comfortable with their dentist.
Need to schedule a dental appointment for your child? Summit Family and Cosmetic Dentistry is a family-friendly dental practice that specializes in working with kids. Request an appointment easily online today.