Cavities, also known as tooth caries or simply referred to as tooth decay, are holes that have developed from the damage on the hard surface of your teeth. Children are one of the more common age groups for cavities, so the likelihood of your child getting at least a few is high. Besides going to the dentist regularly, building good dental habits is the best way to avoid your own kid getting cavities!
Feed Them Healthier Foods
Everyone knows that starchy foods and sugary drinks, combined with irregular cleanings, is a recipe for cavities. These foods, when broken down, coat the tooth with a sticky residue that bacteria love to eat. Children’s Dental Health explains that the stickier a food is, the harder it is to remove the residue, giving the feasting bacteria more time to proliferate. Many baby and kid snacks fall into this starchy, sugary category—think fruit snacks, yogurts, and fruit juices. If these and other sugary items are making too frequent an appearance in your kid’s diet, consider swapping them out for healthier options such as whole fruit, no-sugar-added applesauce, or flavored water.
Go Beyond Brushing
When it comes to how to clean your teeth, most people think of brushing. And that’s good, to start with. But at-home dental care should go beyond brushing and include regular flossing and using mouthwash. Stellar Kids says that even just rinsing the mouth after a meal can help remove bacteria. Depending on your kid’s age these tasks can be a bit of a challenge—maybe it’s hard enough getting them to handle a toothbrush in their mouth—so start small and go from there. Children can usually handle gentle flossing by age two. Consult the directions on your preferred mouthwash brand for when you can start having them gargle and rinse anything besides water.
Establish a Routine
Flossing, rinsing, and brushing your kid’s teeth is great, but without a regular routine your efforts can be quickly derailed. Children thrive on routine, so consider working in a morning flossing session along with brushing and do the same at nighttime, perhaps with a rinse added in. Start with doing the routine every other day if needed and move to daily. It’s important to keep at it, though, considering Evanson DDS says 23% of children aged 2-11 suffer from untreated tooth decay.
Preventing cavities in your children is an important job, but one that can easily be broken down into small, daily tasks. Along with building good dental habits, don’t forget to begin scheduling dentist appointments for your little ones even as soon as 12 months old—it’s never too early to lay the groundwork for a successful habit!
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