Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) show that nearly 30% of children will develop cavities (also called caries) by their 5th birthday. By age 11, more than half of children will have at least one cavity. But there is good news.The CDC also reports that cavities are preventable. Read on for the best ways to protect your kid’s teeth from cavities.
Reduce Sugary Foods and Drinks
Bacteria in the mouth are drawn to sugar. When mixed with bacteria in the mouth, sugary beverages and foods produce acid. Acid is responsible for eating away at tooth enamel. This decay is responsible for cavities. Foods and beverages that are both sugary and acidic (soda pop), are even worse for the teeth, and increase the risk of your child developing cavities.
Preventing Cavities in Kids: Brushing and Flossing
Establishing good oral hygiene habits at a young age is essential for cavity prevention. Children should brush their teeth twice a day for a full two minutes. If your child struggles to brush thoroughly, consider using a toothbrushing timer. This can ensure that they are brushing for the recommended two minutes each time. Children also need to floss once a day. Young children may need help with flossing, or may prefer to use a floss pick.
Regular Dental Cleanings and Screenings Can Prevent Cavities From Forming
Seeing the dentist twice a year is essential to preventing cavities, or halting the progression of tooth decay. When your child visits the dentist for their biannual cleaning, they receive much more than just cleaner teeth. Your pediatric dentist will examine and evaluate the entire mouth.
They will identify any teeth that may be more susceptible to cavity development due to deep crevices and grooves in the teeth.
If your child’s molars have deep grooves or crevices where bacteria can accumulate, your dentist may recommend dental sealants. Dental sealants may prevent up to 80% of cavities on the back teeth.
During your child’s examination, your dentist will also be looking for signs of weakened or demineralized teeth which can benefit from fluoride treatment. Fluoride treatment is painless, and can be quickly applied to the teeth during a regular pediatric dental exam and cleaning.
Your pediatric dentist will also take digital dental x-rays every year or so to see beneath the gum line. This can help identify potential crowding issues in the future, which can cause cavities. In some cases, early orthodontic treatment, such as using a palatal expander to widen the upper jaw may be recommended to reduce crowding and risk of cavities. In cases where a child has lost their baby teeth early, a space maintainer may be to ensure there is enough space for the adult teeth to erupt, thereby preventing overlapping teeth.
Your Child Has a Cavity, Now What?
If your pediatric dentist tells you that your child has developed a cavity, there is no reason to feel ashamed. The shape, size, and position of your child’s teeth can make them more prone to developing cavities. There may also be a link between genes and the strength of tooth enamel, sugar cravings, and potentially even the chemical composition of saliva in the mouth.
If your child has a cavity, talk with your pediatric dentist about your options for dental fillings. Be sure you also monitor your child’s brushing and flossing routines at home to make sure they are brushing and flossing properly.
Schedule a Dental Cleaning and Exam for Your Child
With five pediatric dental offices in Port Jefferson Station, Wading River, Sayville, Hauppauge, and Medford, NY, Suffolk Pediatric Dentistry is a Dentaqest Award Winning dental practice in NY. We provide comprehensive pediatric dental care and orthodontics. Contact us today to schedule a cleaning, exam, or orthodontic care.