- March 29, 2015
If you’ve been reading our blogs, you probably remember reading that adults can get cavities, or tooth decay, just like children can. If your memory serves you really well, you’ll also recall that we said kids are more prone to get cavities, though.
In our last few blogs, we addressed some common dental problems that adults experience, but let’s take a few minutes today to talk about this one common problem for kids, what it is, and what we can do to treat it AND prevent it!
What Does Tooth Decay Mean for Kids?
You might be surprised to know that the most widespread infectious disease for kids in the United States isn’t asthma. It isn’t diabetes, and it isn’t allergies. It’s tooth decay!
Up to half of all kids have cavities, or tooth decay, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And most kids won’t know they have cavities because they won’t feel them.
What Are Cavities?
Cavities are basically holes or openings in your teeth caused by acid. When you eat a lot of sugar, it sits on and in between your teeth and forms plaque, a sticky film on your teeth. The bacteria in your mouth uses the sugar to produce acid, which eats away at your tooth enamel, the hard outer layer of your tooth that protects the rest of your tooth from decay.
Why Do Kids Get Cavities?
Children graze a lot during the day, meaning they snack frequently. Many of their snacks are sugary or starchy foods, which are the worst perpetrators of cavities!
Kids also aren’t as careful or thorough when they brush their teeth as adults are, so more bacteria remains on and in between their teeth.
What Can I Do About It?
The best news about this widespread infectious disease is that you can help your child prevent it!
Brush and Floss
One of the most important ways you can do this is to remove plaque by making sure your kid brushes twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste. Very young children need only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
You will need to help younger children brush their teeth at first so that you can make sure you get to all of their teeth. Then you can monitor them when they start brushing on their own.
You can also help your child floss at night before they go to bed, and as they get older, make sure they continue this nightly ritual.
A lot of kids don’t like the way toothpaste tastes, so you might want to have them pick out fun flavors so that they will enjoy brushing their teeth! They can also pick out flavored dental floss.
If your child is motivated by rewards, you can also use games to get them to brush, or charts and calendars that they can mark off their progress on and get a small reward at the end of the week or month!
Pick Teeth-Friendly Foods and Drinks
Another way to help prevent cavities is to buy healthier snacks. Choose snacks that aren’t sugary and won’t get stuck in their teeth, like fruit snacks, but opt for fresh fruit, veggies, peanut butter, cheese, yogurt, and other healthy snacks instead.
Did you know that fruit juice can contribute to cavities? Many fruit juices or drinks contain a lot of added sugar. Look for 100 percent juice and make sure it’s not the go-to drink like water should be. Also, sodas contain acid and sugar that destroys their enamel. Milk is a good drink choice because of the calcium it contains that strengthens teeth.
Water, however, is the best beverage for your child. Encourage them to drink more water throughout the day and at meals, especially if it contains fluoride. This mineral has been proven to prevent cavities because it restores the minerals your teeth need to be strong (your teeth are made of minerals, after all!).
Teach Them Good Habits
Use these preventative measures to teach your child good hygiene, which they’ll be more likely to carry with them into adulthood, too.
And don’t forget to take them to your Holly dentist twice a year for cleanings! Your Holly Dental Care team can help your child prevent and treat cavities.
What Can Holly Dental Care Do About It?
When you bring your child in for a preventative cleaning, we’ll examine their teeth for cavities, and we’ll also clean the plaque off their teeth, especially in those hard-to-reach places that normal brushing can’t get to that well.
If your kid is at risk for cavities, we’ll help prevent them with fluoride supplements, like a fluoride gel we’ll apply here in the office. We can also recommend at-home fluoride mouthwashes.
Another easy way we can help prevent decay is with sealants. It only takes us a few minutes to paint on these clear coatings that cover your child’s back teeth to actually block out cavities.
We also encourage kids to know what we’re doing and why, and also things they can do to help keep their teeth clean and cavity-free. We call this the tellshowdo method, and it makes kids not only understand a procedure but also to feel comfortable during it because they already know what’s happening and have nothing unknown to be afraid of!
If your child does have cavities, we can use fillings to treat them. And we offer quiet, vibration-free removal of cavities with our no-drill air abrasion that “blasts” their cavities away!
Learn more about this painless dentistry technique here.
Get Gentle Cavity Prevention and Treatment at Holly Dental Care!
Dr. Hunter and our staff practice gentle, comfortable dentistry here so that your kids can come in for cavity prevention or treatment in a relaxing, welcoming environment.
Contact us today to let us help you prevent this widespread disease for your kids! We also have convenient after-school and Saturday hours to make sure they don’t have to ditch school to ditch their cavities!