Your Inglewood dentist understands that tooth decay is a common problem among children, and can lead to pain, infections, and even tooth loss. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over half of children aged 6 to 8 years have had a cavity in their baby teeth, and children from low-income families are twice as likely to leave cavities untreated as children from higher-income families.
Giving your child preventative dental care is important for their oral and overall health. Even though baby teeth are temporary, untreated cavities and tooth absences can negatively impact their eating, speaking, playing, and learning.
Here are some tips for preventing tooth decay in children:
- Brush twice a day:
Children should brush their teeth for at least two minutes twice a day. It’s recommended that parents supervise young children while they brush to ensure that they’re taught how to brush properly with the right amount of toothpaste. Children under 3 years of age should use a smear of toothpaste, about the size of a rice grain, and children between the ages of 3-6 should use no more than a pea-sized amount.
- Floss once a day:
Flossing removes plaque and food particles between teeth that brushing alone cannot reach. Flossing is also beneficial for maintaining healthy and strong gums.
- Use fluoride toothpaste:
Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens teeth and makes them more resistant to decay. Many brands of children’s toothpaste have a minimal amount of fluoride in them, which helps prevent an upset stomach if a small amount is accidently swallowed.
- Limit sugary and acidic foods:
We know better than anyone that children love sugar, and while restricting sugar intake is beneficial for their overall health, restricting it all together is tough. However, limiting sugary and acidic foods and drinks can help prevent the erosion of tooth enamel. One option is to offer your child water as an alternative to juice and soda as often as feasible.
- Offer healthy snacks:
Much like sugary drinks, having an excess of snacks that are high in processed sugar can lead to poor oral health in children. Offering your child healthy snacks such as fruits, vegetables, or even cheese as an alternative can help prevent tooth decay.
- Schedule regular dental checkups:
We recommend that your child’s first trip to the dentist ought to be when they’re a year old, or at least six months after their first tooth comes in. Regular visits thereafter can allow your child’s dentist to detect early signs of tooth decay.
- Consider dental sealants:
Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings that are applied to the chewing surfaces of molars. If your child is suffering from recurrent cavities and oral pain, perhaps it’s beneficial to talk to their dentist about applying dental sealants to their teeth, which can prevent up to 80% of cavities over a span of 2 years.
Overall, preventing tooth decay in children requires a combination of good oral hygiene habits, a healthy diet, and regular dental checkups. Taking a proactive approach to instill good habits early on helps them maintain healthy teeth for life.