Tooth decay is not only a common dental issue, it’s the second most common disease after the common cold. Children are known for their love of sweets and poor brushing habits, which puts them at a higher risk of developing cavities. However, armed with these tips from a general dentist in York, PA, you’ll be equipped to protect your child’s teeth. Following these tips from a dentist in York, PA will ensure a beautiful and healthy smile not just during childhood but throughout the course of their life.
Cavities are small holes in the tooth caused by tooth decay. As bacteria in plaque accumulate on your child’s teeth, the bacteria secrete an acid that harms the tooth enamel, leading to cavities. Preventive dental care can keep this harmful bacteria at bay and reduce your child’s risk of getting a cavity.
Develop Healthy Dental Habits
Preventive care starts with good dental habits. Teaching your child to brush and floss from a young age is critical. Brushing is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to prevent cavities.
As soon as your child’s first tooth comes in, start brushing. Using toothpaste with fluoride provides extra protection against cavities and is safe for children as well as adults. However, because very young children do not understand they need to spit and not swallow toothpaste, it is important to use only a small amount when brushing your young child’s teeth. Before the age of 3 or 4, use only a tiny smear of toothpaste. Once they are able to spit safely after brushing, you can increase the amount of toothpaste to a pea-sized amount. Teach them to brush at least twice a day, and ideally after every meal.
Other Brushing Tips:
- Use a soft-bristled brush and apply gentle pressure.
- Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums, moving back and forth with gentle strokes.
- Use the tip of the brush to clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth
- Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath
- Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months
Likewise, children should also be flossing their teeth. They may need a little extra help at first, but they’ll soon be able to floss their own teeth. When they are quite young, floss sticks can be easier for small hands to manage; however, it is best to train them with floss string as soon as they are able, as it is more effective at reaching and removing the plaque that builds up between teeth.
Get Regular Cleanings
Consistent dental visits with cleanings are a good way to keep your children’s teeth free from cavities. Not only is the extra-deep cleaning helpful in removing harmful plaque that can cause cavities, but your dentist will also evaluate your child’s brushing habits and give you helpful feedback on your child’s brushing and flossing habits. They can help teach young patients techniques and offer encouragement for better dental habits.
Pay Attention to Diet
Your child’s diet can also help to prevent tooth decay and cavities. Try to avoid foods that can easily become stuck in the grooves of your teeth, like gummy or sticky candies. Likewise, sugary foods and drinks should be avoided as much as possible. If your child does indulge, be sure that they brush soon after. If your child is unable to brush right away, rinsing with water can help to wash away harmful bacteria. Also, drinking tap water (most tap water has been treated with fluoride) throughout the day can be helpful in protecting the enamel of your child’s teeth and preventing cavities.
Dental sealants are protective plastic coatings that are applied to the chewing surface of the back teeth. Those back teeth have an increased risk of developing cavities because of all the grooves and crannies that food can easily get stuck in. Sealants seal off those areas, protecting the tooth enamel from plaque and acid. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends sealants for all school-age children. They are easy to apply and can last several years before needing to be replaced.
Topical Fluoride Application
When a dentist sees your child, they may apply a layer of Fluoride varnish on the child’s teeth to make their enamel stronger and more resistant to decay. Fluoride gets incorporated in a child’s enamel and forms a protective layer of fluorapatite, which makes the teeth less soluble in dietary acids.
Address Dental Issues Immediately
If you think your child may have a cavity, do not delay in getting it treated. Cavities usually grow over time and can become more painful the longer they are left untreated. If caught early enough, your dentist can easily clean and fill in any cavity your child may have, reducing further decay and preventing more serious structural issues. By seeking prompt professional treatment you can treat small cavities before they become a bigger issue.
By lowering the levels of harmful bacteria and removing plaque that causes tooth decay, you can reduce your child’s risk of developing painful and troublesome cavities. Helping your child to
develop healthy dental habits from a young age does more than prevent childhood cavities. You will be setting them up with healthy dental habits for life. Regular brushing and flossing, routine visits to the dentist, following a healthy diet, and taking extra preventive measures such as sealants can help preserve tooth enamel and reduce the risk of cavities over the course of their life.