In 2010, more than half of American children have had cavities before the second grade. That’s a lot. It’s even more alarming to note that cavities outrank asthma as the most common childhood disease. How, then, do you prevent childhood cavities?
It all starts with knowledge. Once you know how cavities occur and what conditions make them ripe to form, it becomes easier to protect your children from developing them at an early age. The key here is early prevention. Your child could be at risk as soon as their teeth come in. The earlier you start your children on these measures, the more likely you are to prevent childhood cavities.
But what are these measures, exactly? Here’s what you could do to prevent childhood cavities:
Be the example your kids need
It’s no secret that children often follow the example their parents lead. This statement also applies to dental hygiene. But for babies, this takes on an entirely new meaning.
Babies don’t typically have the oral bacteria that eats away at the teeth. They don’t have teeth. But they can get them early through their parents. When mothers especially share eating implements with their children (like spoons), they can transfer the bacteria in their mouth to the child.
To combat this, parents should also have their teeth checked for any signs of tooth decay or other oral diseases. The healthier their mouths are, the less likely they will transmit the same illnesses to their children.
Aside from this, it might be best not to share implements altogether. If you do use a spoon or a cup for your child, be sure to wash and sterilize them thoroughly. And if the cloth you use to clean your baby’s teeth is something you also use regularly, wash it thoroughly as well.
If you also eat a tooth-friendly diet, this can also come in handy when protecting your child’s teeth. Adding the purée of certain foods (like apples and carrots) into your child’s baby cereal can give their teeth the boost they need.
Make use of every dental opportunity
Baby teeth are typically placeholders for one’s adult set. It’s no surprise, then, that most parents would opt to delay their child’s dental appointments until they’re two years old. By this time, however, your child’s teeth might already have signs of tooth decay.
While they’re still teething, then, it’s recommended to take them to their pediatric dentist for a preliminary check-up. The pediatric dentist will most likely give you a course of action based on their findings. Following these guidelines prevents further plaque buildup and nips any signs of decay in the bud.
If the child is old enough, they might even suggest a dental sealant to prevent any cavities and to protect already-vulnerable areas.
As your child grows, you might want to introduce them to fluoride slowly. In addition to the sealants, fluoride will also strengthen your child’s teeth against the acid attacks from bacteria. By restoring the minerals lost over the day and reversing decay, fluoride also ensures that your children are less prone to cavities.