Can my child really avoid tooth decay?

Parents often want to know how much dental care their kids need and whether or not they can prevent cavities and tooth decay. Parents don’t always know the best way to care for their children’s teeth and often have questions regarding their little one’s oral health routine.

Here at All Family Dental Care we want to support you and your family by providing information you can use at home today to ensure that your child is getting the best care possible.

Cavities and tooth decay happen when bacteria and food are left on the teeth. Acid collects on the tooth, softening the enamel until a cavity forms. Good oral and dental hygiene can help prevent tooth decay and cavities. Prevention is important to maintaining healthy teeth and gums.

Even babies can develop tooth decay. Sucking on a bottle throughout the day can be damaging to young teeth and result in a condition known as bottle mouth. When the sugars from juice or milk remain on a baby’s teeth for hours, they can eat away at the enamel, resulting in pitted, pocked, or discolored teeth. In severe cases, kids can develop cavities that require their front teeth be pulled. We recommend that you run a damp washcloth over your baby’s gums, even before your baby starts teething to remove harmful bacteria.

Once your baby’s teeth start to come in, you’ll want to begin brushing. Use an infant toothbrush, water, and a tiny bit of fluoride toothpaste (no more than the size of a grain of rice). Always choose fluoride toothpaste that has the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval. Even if using baby toothpaste without fluoride, use the same small amount to minimize the amount of toothpaste that is swallowed.

Around the age of 2, your child should learn to spit when brushing. Avoid giving your child water to swish before spitting because this can increase the likelihood of swallowing toothpaste. Once your baby’s teeth touch, you can start flossing in between them. Kids ages 3 and up should use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Continue to supervise kids under the age of 6 while brushing because they are more likely to swallow toothpaste.

The ADA recommends that all children see a dentist by their first birthday. Your dentist will complete a modified exam, usually while your baby sits on your lap. Your dentist will explain proper brushing and flossing techniques while also determining if your child is at risk for cavities. They will also evaluate any potential problems for early treatment. The dentist may recommend a topical fluoride to help ward off common childhood oral diseases and decay.

As your child’s permanent teeth grown in, your dentist will likely suggest placing a sealant on the back teeth. This thin resin is a protective coating that keeps bacteria from settling in the hard-to-reach areas of the molars.

Regular checkups and good oral hygiene can help prevent cavities, decay, and the need for extensive dental work. If you have any questions about your child’s oral health, please give us a call.

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