5 Tips to Help Children Avoid Cavities

5 Tips to Help Children Avoid Cavities

October 1, 2019

Most parents often assume that cavities in children are due to lax in brushing. Although that’s partly true, tooth cavity or decay is caused by bacteria.

A dental cavity is common in young children compared to asthma or diabetes. According to the NIH (National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research), 42% of children between 2 and 11 years have had dental cavities affecting their primary teeth.

What are Cavities?

Tooth decay occurs when a group of germs, Mutans Streptococcus attacks the teeth. The bacteria create a plaque build-up which erodes the enamel. Once the calcium diminishes, the surface of the tooth will collapse causing holes and tiny openings– that’s a cavity.

As aforementioned dental cavities are caused by bacteria. Other causes include;

  • Plaques form due to eating a lot of sugary foods.
  • Poor teeth cleaning 
  • Acid attack on your teeth

Risk factors

Certain factors can increase the risk of tooth decay;

  • Tooth location. Cavities occur most often on the back teeth 
  • Certain foods that cling to teeth like milk, honey, ice cream, cakes, and cookies
  • Bedtime infant feeding and drinks remain on the child’s teeth for hours which can cause bacteria to multiply. 
  • Frequent snacking on sugary drinks fuels the bacteria to multiply

How to Prevent Cavities

Preventing dental cavities is easy and better than dealing with decay and extraction. With these simple techniques, you can keep cavities at bay;

1. Visit the pediatric dentist

If you assume its early or child is too young to visit a dentist, you are wrong. Children teeth are at risk of decay long before they taste their first candy.

According to AAPD (American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry), young children should see a dentist by their first birthday.

Although visiting a pediatrician is recommended, most of them don’t check teeth and gums. Lucky for you, at Texas Dental Center, we offer both family and pediatric dentistry.

Visiting a dentist will help treat dental problems early. For example, baby teeth cavities. These first teeth are space holders for the permanent ones. So, if a child loses one prematurely, it can affect teeth alignment in the future creating the need for braces. 

2. Limit sugar and sugary drinks

Bacteria survive on sugar. Keep in mind, though, when it comes to cavities it about the frequency of consumption and not quantity. Why? Because repeated exposure of teeth to sugar prevents saliva production. Saliva acts as our natural mouth cleanser. It contains substances that counter bacteria acid production.

3. Pay attention to fluoride

Fluoride, a natural element, strengthens teeth, prevents decay and deterioration. Fluoride is contained in toothpaste, mouthwash, drinking water, and in foods like meat, eggs, and fish.

Kids under three years should not use fluoride toothpaste because they swallow it, and too much fluoride can cause fluorosis which affects the teeth causing white spots. So, discuss with your pediatric dentist on the available fluoride options that you can use.

4. Practice good oral hygiene

Oral hygiene starts with you. Babies are born without bacteria and studies indicate that moms can infect their babies before they turn 2 years. How? By repeatedly sharing their spoons with the baby.

If you have had cavities before, you are likely to pass the germs to your child. So, avoid sharing a brush or spoon with your baby.

Use an antibacterial mouthwash to reduce bacterial growth in your mouth. This way you will reduce transmission to your children.

5. Consider dental sealants

  • For babies, clean the gum daily after feeding with damp clothing even before the first tooth appears

Plus, start brushing your child as soon as the first tooth erupts. You can use a cloth or a toothbrush but use fluoride-free toothpaste.

  • For toddlers, brush their teeth for a minute after breakfast and before bed. You use a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste if the child is above 3 years.

Consider dental sealants

Molars are prone to the tooth cavity. Bacteria settles in pits of the back teeth. A dental sealant is a plastic coating applied on the larger back teeth.

CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends protective sealants for all school-aged children.

These plastic sealants last for several years, but they need regular checkups.


Don’t wait for your children to grow before you take them to the dentist. Regular visits to a pediatric or family dentistry will make it possible for you to treat emerging dental problems.

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