Helping Your Child Avoid Dental Cavities
Our entire team at Pediatric Dentistry of Brandon is dedicated to preventing cavities and gum disease—and providing fast, effective dental care if they occur. Here is what you need to know about what causes dental cavities and what you can do to prevent them.
If oral bacteria and food debris are not removed through teeth cleaning twice a day, a sticky substance of bacteria, food particles and saliva clings to the teeth. This sticky substance is called “dental plaque.” Bacteria in the plaque produce an acid as they feed on the carbohydrates your child eats. This acid demineralizes the dental enamel. When this erosion creates a hole in the enamel, it is called a “dental cavity.” By fighting plaque build up with daily oral hygiene and removing plaque with professional dental cleanings every six months, your child has a good opportunity to avoid cavities.
What You Can Do to Help Your Child Avoid Dental Cavities
- Provide your child with a balanced diet that is low in carbohydrates, especially sugar.
- Schedule professional teeth cleanings, starting at age one and then at the intervals we recommended for your child. Depending on the condition of your child’s mouth, this may be more frequent than every six months.
- Most children begin to be able to brush independently when they reach the age of seven. Until the time they are brushing independently, help your child brush her or his teeth twice a day. At this stage, monitor teeth cleaning to make sure your child is being thorough. When your child is age three, begin once-a-day flossing to help prevent plaque from accumulating between the teeth and at the back of the molars.
- Use a fluoride tooth paste that we recommend as age appropriate for your child. Before age three, a pediatric tooth paste will be safer than an adult one if your child swallows the tooth paste.
- Provide a non-alcohol fluoride mouth rinse for older children and teens to use before bedtime. Ask us if we think your young child is developmentally ready to safely use a fluoride rinse. Make sure your child is swishing and spitting the rinse—not swallowing it. We are happy to recommend appropriate rinses.
- If your child’s permanent teeth are crowded or if the permanent molars have deep crevices, they will be at higher risk of developing plaque. This is because tooth spacing and shape make it more difficult for them to completely clean their teeth. We have three recommendations. (1) Use an electronic toothbrush, which will clean teeth up to 30% more effectively. (2) Have us treat deep pits and crevices with sealants. (3) Proceed with orthodontic treatment, as recommended, to properly space and align the teeth.
- Monitor your child’s consumption of acidic beverages such soft drinks and sports drinks, because these also erode minerals from dental enamel. If your child cannot brush her or his teeth after drinking these beverages, rinsing with water will help. Chewing sugarless gum will increase saliva flow and also help clear away acidic fluids.
- Don’t delay regular dental cleanings and checkups. Give us a call today!