4 steps to help your child prevent cavities

4 steps to help your child prevent cavities

Cavities are the result of a perfect storm of dental hygiene problems. Cavity causing bacteria, a frequent source of sugar or carbohydrates and/or acidic drinks, saliva that poorly buffers the acids in the mouth and ineffective hygiene can all combine to cause cavities.

What steps can you take to raise a cavity-free child?

1. Set an example

Start with keeping your own mouth clean. Moms and dads should practice good oral hygiene and follow through on dental treatment recommendations before their child is born. Since cavity causing bacteria can be transferred from one mouth to another, if you have untreated cavities or poor oral health, there is a greater chance that your child’s mouth will be populated by the same type of bacteria. 

The transfer of bacteria can occur from simple activities such as kissing, blowing on food to cool it off, tasting food or drink to test the temperature, sharing of straws or utensils and wiping your child’s mouth with your own spit.

2. Start early

Good oral health practices should begin once your child is born. Wiping your child’s mouth out (consider doing this as often as you change the diaper) helps to establish routines early for both you and your child. Once your child’s teeth begin to come into the mouth, a soft bristled toothbrush is a great tool to help break up and remove the plaque from the teeth. 

The longer the plaque sits on the teeth, the more toxic it becomes to teeth. Brushing the teeth before going to bed may be the most important time to brush. Do not forget to brush the tongue.

3. Healthy snack habits

Grazing or frequent consumption of sugary (from either natural or processed foods) or starchy snacks provides fuel to the bacteria known to contribute to the development of cavities. 

Drinks that are acidic are immediately harmful to the teeth. We all live on-the-go lives, so plan appropriately. When your child has on-the-go snacks, make water the on-the-go drink. When at home, set a schedule for snacks and choose healthy ones.

4. First dentist visit

Make it a year of firsts – first birthday, first steps and first visit to the dentist. Bringing your child to the dentist by the first birthday will give you an opportunity to ask questions pertaining to your child’s oral health and development. It will also give the dental team an opportunity to demonstrate effective oral hygiene habits and the give dentist an opportunity to identify a potential problem at an early stage.

Early visits will also allow the dentist to give advice on minimizing the impact of some of the “perfect storm” factors and help develop a relationship with your child so that going to the dentist is filled with anticipation, not anxiety.

About this Angie’s List Expert: Dr. Donna J. Quinby is a board certified dentist with Eastside Pediatric Dental Group, providing pediatric dental services in Issaquah, Wash. Starting in 1994 with one pediatric dentist, Eastside Pediatric Dental Group now has three board certified pediatric dentists and offers oral health care from prevention to treatment. They are a recipient of the 2012 Angie’s List Super Service Award.

As of July 16, 2013, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.

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