How to Prevent Cavities in Children

How to Prevent Cavities in Children

by Alex Hirsch (SU)

Preventing cavities in children can be a challenge. There are very few sweets, junk foods, and drink products that don’t entice kids. Sweets seem to call to them, but the bacteria that can form on the teeth and in the mouth as a result will cause cavities in the long run. It’s not just sweets and junk foods that contribute to the problem, but healthy foods that also leave debris on teeth. Removing that debris will help prevent cavities, but there are other preventive steps that can be taken, too. 

Proper Brushing 

Proper brushing is the first defense against tooth decay. Educate your children on the proper way to brush their teeth. Even toddlers can learn to hold a toothbrush in their hands. At first, your child might simply rub the brush clumsily along their teeth. This is fine while learning the process, however, you can follow through by holding the brush at a 45-degree angle to the gums. Brush the child’s teeth with gentle back and forth strokes, brushing the outer and inner surfaces of the teeth as well as chewing surfaces. It will become necessary to tilt the toothbrush into a vertical position to clean the back of the front teeth, brushing in up and down strokes.

Teeth brushing should last approximately two minutes and should be done twice a day. A small child will only need a pea-sized portion of toothpaste on their brush. Additionally, there are special toothpastes that may be more palpable for little children. Eliminating the harsh taste of some adult toothpaste might encourage kids to brush. However, be careful to supervise your child’s toothbrushing to ensure they spit out, rather than swallow, the toothpaste.

Dental Sealant 

Dental sealants are a fantastic way to prevent cavities in children. A dental sealant is a plastic coating that is painted onto the chewing surface of the teeth.

A child’s back molars are more susceptible to bacteria because these teeth are not easy to floss and reaching them with a toothbrush may be difficult for some children. Also, the deep crevices on the chewing surface of teeth are hard to get clean.

Dental sealants prevent bacteria from penetrating the teeth. Ask your child’s pediatric dentist about having sealants applied to his or her teeth. It is a painless process that is administered by either the dentist or a dentist hygienist. Before the sealant is applied, your child’s teeth will be thoroughly cleaned in the dental office. Once properly cleaned, the coating is applied and allowed to dry.

Dental sealants can last up to 10 years. The dentist will recheck a child’s teeth at every dental visit. If cracks or chips compromise the sealant, it can be reapplied so that bacteria cannot attack exposed tooth enamel. Sealant is best applied and most effective for children between 6 and 14 years old.  

Regular Dental Visits 

The earlier a child visits a dentist, the more likely he or she will become interested in their oral health. Do not wait until a child’s permanent teeth come in. Take your child to the dentist when the first tooth emerges. Your dentist will check the teeth and gums and can also advise you on how to clean the primary (baby) teeth and how to keep future (permanent) teeth healthy.

360 Dental is here to enhance your family’s oral health, including preventing cavities in children. If you have questions regarding your teeth, call us at (541) 689-1645 or use our appointment request form.