Now that the winter holidays have subsided, parents might think they don’t have to worry quite so much about their children’s candy consumption. However, that doesn’t mean that cavities aren’t still a potential threat to the dental hygiene of your little ones.
Cavities, also called caries, are the result of tooth decay, a disease caused by long-term buildup of bacteria on and around the teeth. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, children are susceptible to developing cavities as soon as their first tooth erupts; this usually happens around six months of age. Tooth decay is also one of the most common health problems among American children.
At Anthem Pediatric Dentistry, we strive to serve families with valuable resources for taking care of their dental health. We want every young patient to know that we care about them, not just when they visit the office, but when they return home too. We hope to show this by providing visitors with the information and tools necessary to practice proper tooth care every day.
In this article, we’ve put together a list of the 4 top tips — along with brushing and flossing — to help your child prevent cavities. Making these rules part of your home routine will ensure that the next time your kiddo comes in for a checkup, their bill of health will be as pristine as their smile!
Tip #1: Serve tooth-friendly foods
Did you know there are certain foods that can support healthy teeth? When it comes to dental hygiene, what you eat regularly matters just as much as the sugary foods you try to avoid.
Next time you or your partner goes to the grocery store, be sure to pick up some tooth-friendly foods. These include fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, such as apples, oranges, bananas, and leafy greens, beans, and Brussels sprouts.
Foods high in calcium are also a good anticavity choice. Calcium is abundant in foods like cheese, yogurt, and milk, but it can also be obtained from lesser-known sources. Certain types of fish, raisins, sesame seeds, kale, Cheerios, and even tofu are all excellent and tasty ways to keep your child full — but not in need of a filling.
At lunchtime, instead of PB+J sandwiches on refined white bread, serve a turkey or veggie variety on whole-grain slices. At snack time, apple slices and peanut butter or carrot sticks and tuna fish are both great choices.
Tip #2: Know your child’s risk for developing cavities
Even if your child has never had a cavity, they may still be at risk of developing one, especially as they get older and their food preferences and lifestyles begin to broaden. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that all children visit a dentist before the age of 1, and a comprehensive dental exam is the best way to assess your child’s risk of cavities.
Anthem Pediatric Dentistry specializes in these kinds of evaluations, and we are proud to have helped hundreds of families in the Las Vegas area avoid the pain and expense of tooth decay through healthy preventative measures.
If you contact us to schedule a pediatric dental appointment, you can expect the following from your child’s comprehensive professional examination:
- Digital dental X-rays
- Stain and deposit removal
- Demonstration of proper cleaning methods
- Physical assessment of mouth and gum health
- Further recommendations for treatment and supplementation, if needed
Tip #3: Ditch the bottle when possible
If you have a child under the age of 2, you’re probably getting ready to wean or already in the process of doing so. Either way, make it a goal to give your child beverages (other than formula or breast milk) in an open cup rather than a bottle. This process should be started between the ages of 12 and 18 months.
Children who wean too late, or rely too heavily on bottle-feeding, are more likely to consume higher amounts of sugary juices and beverages. This makes them more susceptible to tooth decay and cavities!
Tip #4: Make tooth care more fun!
As children are learning how to best care for their teeth, it’s important they feel involved in the decision-making process. The level of involvement will vary depending on parenting style and individual child needs, but in general, there are a few ways to help youngsters get excited about brushing and flossing.
First and foremost, make sure your child helps pick out their toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash. If the brush handle is a favorite color or the toothpaste features a beloved character, the child is much more likely to use these products regularly, and to feel good when they do.
During the initial stages of habit development, be sure to brush with your children to show them proper technique and to ensure they are cleaning their teeth for at least 2 minutes.
Some parents find their children benefit from the implementation of a small rewards system. For example, make a deal with your kiddo: if they practice consistent dental hygiene — say, every night at 8 p.m. for a week — promise to reward them with something they enjoy. These incentives might take the form of a sparkly sticker, a round of their favorite board game, or a few extra minutes on the swing.
In the same way, the fear that often arises before a first-time dentist visit can be mitigated by a post-appointment activity, like a trip to the zoo or an outing to the latest animated movie.
Whether you implement all four or just one of these tips into your child’s dental care routine, you’re sure to make a positive impact on the health of their teeth. To learn more, ask questions, and/or express concerns, be sure to schedule an appointment with us by calling our East Las Vegas office at 702-459-5437.