Tooth decay in children is happening earlier than ever—some dentists are even seeing children with cavities in their baby teeth! Keeping your child’s mouth healthy can not only prevent cavities, but also help children to understand just how important their teeth are. Even baby teeth are crucial for guiding adult teeth into their proper places.
Protect your child from tooth decay by knowing your child’s risk. Which children have the highest risk for developing tooth decay?
Those Without a Regular Brushing Routine
You can start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as they have teeth! Similarly, you can also start flossing your child’s teeth as soon as they have two teeth that touch together. As your child grows and is able to take over brushing and flossing, you should still supervise to ensure they’re doing a proper job.
Children without a regular brushing routine are putting their mouths at risk for development of plaque and tartar, overgrowth of bad bacteria that can cause enamel erosion and cavities, and even gum disease. It’s vital that your child brushes properly at least once a day, preferably twice a day for the most benefits. Flossing also helps to remove plaque and bacteria that can cause tooth decay!
Children Who Eat Lots of Processed Food
It’s easy to have your child eat a prepackaged snack or to make dinners from packaged foods. However, children who eat lots of processed food—namely carbohydrates and sugars—are at an increased risk for tooth decay. Your child’s body needs an abundance of nutrients, most of which can be found in fresh, whole foods.
Making the switch from processed foods filled with simple carbohydrates and sugars to whole foods is easier than you think. Instead of snack bars, buy apples and bananas. Instead of soda, buy seltzer water. For dinner, make at least half of their plate with fresh, colorful vegetables. This can give their smiles the nutrients they need to be strong and resist tooth decay.
Kids Whose Parents Have Cavities
If you have several cavities, your children are more likely to have cavities. This is because the bacteria that’s in your mouth was likely passed to them during infancy, whether through kissing or sharing utensils. This allows their own unique oral bacteria to grow with your bacteria—if you have lots of cavities, it’s likely that your child will be at a higher risk for them as well.
What Can You Do?
There are many things you can do to protect your child from tooth decay! Firstly, visiting your pediatric dentist for checkups every six months is crucial. Your dentist may also recommend dental sealants, which is a clear, protective barrier for your child’s back teeth, which are the hardest to clean.
You can also buy toothpaste with fluoride in it, which will help to strengthen your child’s teeth and prevent cavities. Your dentist may also recommend a fluoride treatment if your child needs it. Talk to your dentist about how much fluoride your child is getting, as too much or too little will be a problem.
What’s your child’s risk for tooth decay? Children who fail to brush and floss regularly, eat lots of simple carbohydrates and sweets, and have parents with cavities are at the highest risk for tooth decay. Visit your dentist to talk about your child’s risk and what you can do to minimize the chances that they’ll develop cavities. Your child’s teeth should be healthy for life—you can help make that happen!