Recipe For A Cavity-Free Child
Not very long ago cavities were considered an unavoidable part of growing up. Just as every child experienced colds, the flu, measles, and chickenpox, it was expected that each child would experience dental decay. By the time a child was a teenager, the average child had eleven teeth with either cavities or fillings.
Times have changed. Today, by practicing preventive dentistry, it is now possible for parents to raise their children without decay. There are five steps for parents to follow in this “Recipe for a cavity free child”.
1. Use fluoride regularly
This is the single most important step in preventing decay in children. Children who have daily fluoride (by either fluoridated water, fluoride drops, or fluoride tablets) will have 65% less decay throughout their lives. Your family dentist or pediatrician can prescribe the proper amount.
2. Practice sugar control
This is the second most important step. Children who have frequent sugar snacks throughout the day have rapid and widespread decay. Children who have no sugar have no decay. The key for parents is to control sugar frequency. Here are some tips:
Always have non-sugar snacks on hand
(popcorn, chips, fruit, cheese, vegetables)
Restrict sugar to mealtime
(avoid in-between meal sweets, but allow dessert)
Never use sugar or sweets as a reward.
Exercise sugar control when you market.
3. Brush and floss each day
The cause of decay is bacteria called plaque. If your child removes the plaque from his teeth effectively each day there is a very low chance for decay. Brushing and flossing tips:
Allow children younger then six do it themselves first, but then go back and brush and floss for them.
The best time to brush and floss is after meals, after sweets, and before bedtime. But any time is a good time. Children should have at least one thorough brushing and flossing each day.
Brush and floss with your children. Children are great imitators.
4. Use sealants to seal out decay
The narrow natural grooves and cracks on the biting surfaces of molar teeth are the most decay-prone area in the mouth. These decay-prone areas can be sealed with a thin layer of plastic which is bonded to fill in the grooves. Sealants work best on permanent molar teeth which have not yet decayed. Hence, the best time to place sealants is generally at ages six and twelve (when the six year molars and the twelve year molars come into the mouth).
5. Visit the dentist for regular check-ups
The dentist is your best source of information and advice regarding the various preventive techniques described. Regular check ups allow the dentist to examine and spot any problem at the very earliest stage. With an early alert often a potential cavity can be prevented, or be corrected with a very small and simple filling.
If parents give their children a good start in preventing decay during childhood, the benefits of a healthy smile, strong teeth, and a positive attitude toward dental health will pay dividends throughout life. Parents who practice preventive dentistry with their children truly bestow upon them a gift that will last a lifetime.
David Molina D.D.S.