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5 Tips to Prevent Childhood Cavities

Dad and his daughter brushing their teeth in the bathroom

What are cavities?

When you eat foods like carbohydrates and sweets and don’t brush them away, they stay on your teeth where the bacteria in your mouth turns them into acids. These acids and bacteria along with food debris and saliva can form plaque, a sticky substance that clings to your teeth. The acids in plaque can dissolve the outermost layer of a tooth, called the enamel, forming a hole or cavity.

Why is it important to avoid cavities?

If a child’s cavity is left untreated, the bacteria can spread and cause problems with your child’s future permanent teeth. It can result in the development of abnormalities like pitted or stained teeth. In addition, a cavity can be painful and cause your child to have difficulty chewing or have issues with speech development.

How can you help prevent childhood cavities?

The following 5 tips will help you prevent cavities in your child:

  • Help them begin a good dental care routine: Start by brushing your child’s teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Children younger than 3 will need only a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice. From age 3 to 6, use a pea-sized amount. Even when your child can brush on their own, you’ll need to check behind them until they can do a thorough job. You should also help with flossing when your child has two adjacent teeth.
  • Brush and floss together: Join your child to brush and floss together. You’ll make sure the job gets done and will be setting a good example when it comes to making at-home oral care a habit as well as demonstrating the proper technique.
  • Focus on a “mouth-healthy” diet: Your child’s diet can have a big effect on their oral health. Encourage them to eat a diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, which have plenty of fiber and also help clean teeth as they’re eaten. Foods and beverages like milk that are rich in calcium can also help protect your child’s teeth from cavities by strengthening their enamel.
  • Control bottle and sippy cup usage: A bedtime bottle can be soothing for your young child, but liquids such as milk, breast milk, formula, and juice can bathe your child’s mouth in sugar for hours. You should aim to have your child finish the bottle before bedtime. If they’re accustomed to sleeping with a bottle, try one with water in it. A sippy cup should also be monitored since they can also keep sugary liquid in long contact with your child’s mouth. These cups should ideally be phased out around your child’s first birthday.
  • Make regular dental checkups a priority: Regular dental checkups should start within six months after your child’s first tooth appears or by their first birthday. Making these visits an early and regular habit helps ensure that any issues will be detected – and corrected – as soon as possible. You’ll also be able to get information about cavity prevention, fluoride needs, thumb sucking, bottle use, teething, and more.

To learn more about preventing childhood cavities, make an appointment or stop by one of the many convenient New York area offices. We’re open seven days a week with extended weekday hours for your convenience, and we welcome walk-ins. We’ll make you and your child feel comfortable and will help him or her get started on a lifetime of good dental health.

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