Sometimes, it might seem like kids are the most susceptible to cavities—but you do have ways to fight back! Today, the Children’s Dental Center will explain: How can I prevent cavities in my child’s teeth?

Understanding Cavities

Before we expand to prevention, let’s discuss some of the causes and risk factors around cavities in our pediatric patients. 

  1. Causes: Cavities will be primarily caused by poor oral hygiene and certain dietary habits. Bacteria feed on sugar when it’s eaten and produce acids that eat away at tooth enamel. Over time, this can result in cavities or holes forming in the teeth.
  2. Symptoms: Signs and symptoms of cavities can vary quite a bit from child to child based on the severity of their decay. In the early stages, there are often no tangible symptoms. But as decay progresses, there’s often tooth sensitivity, pain, visible pits or holes in the teeth, and discoloration.
  3. Risk Factors: There are several factors that can increase a kid’s risk of developing cavities, like lack of fluoride exposure, inadequate saliva flow, and genetic predisposition for tooth decay.

How Can I Prevent Cavities in My Child's Teeth?

How to Fight Cavities

Parents, dentists, and children can all collaborate to help actively prevent cavities from forming or getting worse. Our all-star team of Dr. Rowland, Dr. Selecman, Dr. Daniel, Dr. Greene, and Dr. Church will work with your family one-on-one to ensure proper understanding.

  1. Teach Proper Oral Hygiene Habits: Establish the basics for your kids early on: Brush their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Ensure they’re brushing at least two minutes each time with a soft-bristled toothbrush. You can supervise this process until they can effectively brush on their own, around ages six or seven. You can also teach them to floss daily to remove food particles and plaque from between their teeth.
  2. Educate: Teaching your child about oral hygiene habits can be done in a number of age-friendly ways. This can be accomplished using books, videos, or games to make learning about oral health fun and engaging. Ask our Children’s Dental Center team about other suggestions.
  3. Limit Pacifier Use: Prolonged use of pacifiers or thumb-sucking can cause a whole host of dental and orthodontic problems. When the alignment of your child’s teeth is impacted, the risk of cavities can increase. Encourage your child to stop these habits by age three.
  4. Limit Sugary Foods and Drinks: This is a big one and can be a tough one, too. Reduce your child’s consumption of sugary snacks and beverages wherever you can, including candies, cookies, sodas, and juices. These all invoke cavities. Try to encourage healthier options like fruits, vegetables, cheese, yogurt, and water. 
  5. Use Fluoride Products: Ensure your child uses fluoride toothpaste, as this ingredient helps to strengthen enamel and prevent cavities. If your child’s dentist recommends it, consider additional fluoride treatments or mouth rinses.
  6. Regular Dental Check-Ups: Schedule regular check-ups for your child, starting around their first birthday or when their first tooth erupts. The earlier, the better, as it gets them used to the office environment. Routine appointments allow us to monitor your child’s oral health, detect cavities early, and provide preventative treatments like dental sealants or fluoride varnish. 
  7. Dental Sealants: Consider using dental sealants, which are thin protective coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of molars to prevent decay. Sealants can effectively reduce the risk of cavities in children, especially in hard-to-reach areas. 
  8. Monitor Sugar-Free Products: Sometimes, sugar-free options can seem like healthier alternatives but present issues of their own. They can contain acids or artificial sweeteners that can still contribute to tooth erosion. Read labels carefully and choose products that are less acidic or have minimal impact on enamel.
  9. Be Mindful of Oral Health During Illness: During periods of illness, do your best to help your child maintain an oral health routine. If they cannot brush their teeth due to illness or vomiting, you can encourage rinsing with water or fluoride mouthwash to help neutralize acids and protect teeth.
  10. Monitor Medication Use: Some medications, like liquid syrups and chewable vitamins, can contain some sugar that can cause decay. Suggest your child rinse their mouth out afterward to wash away the sugar particles. 
  11. Lead by Example: Be a positive role model to your child by practicing good oral hygiene habits yourself. This can be done by brushing and flossing together as a family and further demonstrates the importance of regular dental visits.

How Can I Prevent Cavities in My Child's Teeth?

A Team Effort

Above all else, parents should try to extend patience when working with their kids to develop healthy dental habits. Children’s Dental Center is committed to helping you on that journey. Please come visit us in Arlington, Collierville, or Midtown.