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5 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Child's Cavity Risk

Feb 01, 2024
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Looking for easy ways to keep your child’s mouth free from dental decay and fillings? We’ve got you covered. Take a moment this National Children’s Dental Health Month to read our top five tips on reducing your child’s risk of cavities.

Happy National Children’s Dental Health Month! We’re celebrating pediatric oral health this February, which means it’s the perfect time to learn how you can reduce your child’s risk of getting cavities. 

At Proud to Smile Dentistry in Bernardsville, New Jersey, Patricia Swaintek-Lamb, DMD, and our expert team offer the best in dental care for the whole family, from pediatric dentistry for children and teens to a full scope of adult dental services

Our practice takes proactive steps to protect your child’s teeth, from before they first push through the gums through their adult years — including cavity prevention. Cavities are the most common chronic pediatric health issue, affecting over half of all children in the United States.

Cavities can lead to other dental issues, including gum disease, which is linked to many serious health problems. Luckily, you can take steps to reduce your child’s cavity risk — here’s how.

1. Teach your child about regular brushing early

You can help reduce your child’s risk of cavities by starting oral care right from the beginning. Before your child’s teeth erupt, wipe down their gums at least two times a day using a moist washcloth or a fresh piece of gauze.

Once their teeth poke through, use a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and gently clean your child’s teeth with a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste. As they get older, talk to them about how to brush their teeth the right way

Move from brushing for them to supervising them as they grow — and keep supervising until they’re about 10 years old. Don’t stop reminding them to brush every day through their teen years. 

2. Be sure not to skip flossing  

When your child is young and has lots of space between their teeth, it may seem like flossing isn’t necessary. But it’s actually the perfect time to help them learn how to floss and develop the habit of regularly flossing each day, before the task becomes more challenging. 

Flossing plays a key role in reducing your child’s cavity risk by cleaning the areas brushing can’t reach and getting rid of cavity-causing plaque. If you’re not sure about the right way to floss, Dr. Swaintek-Lamb and our team can show you age-appropriate techniques. 

3. Give them added protection with fluoride

Fluoride is a safe and effective way to keep children’s teeth healthy and strong. In fact, not getting enough fluoride as an infant and toddler increases your child’s risk of more serious dental issues as they grow. 

Fluoride supports your child’s dental enamel, helping it retain more of the minerals that make it strong. It can also strengthen any soft spots your child’s enamel may already have, preventing cavities from taking root. 

That’s why the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association recommend using a fluoride toothpaste as soon as your child’s first tooth pushes through their gums.Dr. Swaintek-Lamb may also recommend fluoride treatments or supplements if needed.

4. Encourage extra dental care after snacking

Bedtime dental care is important, but teaching your child to clean their teeth after snacking could be the difference between a mouth full of fillings or staying free of cavities. The bacteria that causes cavities feed off sugar and produce acidic waste, which eats away at your child’s dental enamel. 

By having your child get in the habit of cleaning their teeth as soon as they can after snacking, you can help reduce their risk of getting cavities. Also, teach them to rinse their mouth out with water when they don’t have access to a toothbrush and floss. 

You can further reduce their cavity risk by encouraging low-sugar, healthy snacks and water instead of sugary beverages and treats. And lead by example, cleaning your teeth after having a snack whenever possible.

5. Be sure your child sees the dentist twice a year

Making sure your child has regular dental exams is one of the most important steps you can take in reducing your child’s risk of cavities and optimizing their overall oral health. That’s why the American Dental Association recommends taking your child for an exam by their first birthday

Not only does Dr. Swaintek-Lamb provide cavity-preventing treatments like professional cleanings, dental sealants, topical fluoride, and digital X-rays, but seeing a dentist regularly helps your child get accustomed to receiving routine dental care. 

This is important as it promotes better oral hygiene practices at home while also making them feel comfortable seeing a dental provider. In this way, scheduling and keeping regular dental visits for your child fosters better lifelong dental care, reducing their risk of getting cavities long term. 

You can get personalized advice on keeping your child’s teeth healthy and strong by scheduling a pediatric dentistry appointment online or over the phone today at Proud to Smile Dentistry in Bernardsville, New Jersey.