Top 5 Ways You Can Prevent Dental Decay In Children
Regarding dental decay, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It’s the basis of everything dental when it comes to children.
Here are five ways stop cavities before they start.
1- Brush your children’s teeth twice a day and floss them before bed.
Seems so easy, and yet I’m overwhelmingly surprised at how few parents routinely follow through with this regimen daily. Making at-home brushing charts (I have one that I give out to my patients) can be fun and keep track of how often your children are brushing their teeth. I’m a big fan of rewarding good behaviour, so a good strategy for fighting dental decay can be rewarding a child who has completed a month of successful oral hygiene routine.
2- Dental decay vs a healthy nutritious kitchen
You can’t control what your children are given at school or playdates (or grandma’s house most importantly!), but you absolutely can control what comes into your house and goes into your children lunch boxes.
Many sticky “gummy bear” type fruit snacks are loaded with added sugar. The sticky nature of theses snacks with their inherent natural sugars acts just like candy getting dissolved and stuck in the deep grooves of molars that can linger and cause a cavity. The same could also be said for granola bars marketed as healthy snacks. Many also contain hydrogenated oils, food colouring, and dyes. I know dentists are perceived to only care about what happens between your chin and your nose, but we actually play a very important part in nutritional health education for your little ones. Fruit by the Foot, Fruit Rollups, and other such products use deceptive marketing practices to fool parents into believing these are good substitutes for the real thing. Please reconsider packing these snacks in your kids’ lunches…a strawberry is much better for us when it actually IS a strawberry!
3- Drink water- the free kind!
Children who grow up drinking water with, and between meals generally grow up with better eating habits than those who are given juice or pop. Juice with a meal once in a while can be innocuous. However, sippy cups or bottles filled with fruit juice are a bad idea. Fruit juices are acidic in nature and contain a lot of natural and/or artificial sugars. Exposing your child’s teeth to juice for an extended period of time, especially between meals, can lead to tooth decay. And, steer clear of bottled water for children. Your child’s developing dentition will benefit greatly from the fluoride in Toronto’s drinking water, which the City has been adding to promote oral health since 1963.
4- Take your children to the dentist at the appropriate time
The Canadian Dental Association recommends taking infants to the dentist for an initial assessment within 6 months of the eruption of the first tooth or by age 1. Why so young? To educate before there is a problem with a child’s teeth. After the first visit, schedule a dental check every 6 months for that your oral health care provider can catch any small lesions early before they progress. Remember…dentists check more than just your teeth: regular and early check ups also ensure that any soft tissue anomalies are identified as well. Biannual fluoride treatments also play a key role in fortifying teeth and making them more resistant to dental decay.
5- Use a fluoridated toothpaste
While parents usually have very good intentions when choosing organic products for their children, stick with convention for toothpaste.
Look for the CDA (Canadian Dental Association) seal of approval. Here is their CDA Seal Program.
This seal indicates safety and oral health benefits. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that chemically integrates with the enamel of your teeth to make them more resistant to decay from foods’ acidic byproducts. The introduction of a fluoride toothpaste is recommended at age 2 to 3, subject to the risk level assessed by your dental professional. During infancy, water and a soft toothbrush are sufficient.
Wishing You Good Health!