Cavities in teeth aren’t just an issue for adults: cavities in children’s teeth are a common problem that dentists have to deal with every day. Caused by sugary diets and poor dental hygiene, cavities can be very painful for your child. They often require dental fillings but are entirely preventable. When your child’s teeth are exposed to sugary foods on a regular basis, the sugar begins to collect on and around the teeth to form a sticky film or plaque. The acid emitted from bacteria found in this plaque damages the teeth as it attacks. Eventually the acid will not only weaken the enamel but penetrate the tooth itself.
To ensure that you give your children the best chance of having good oral health, here’s a quick guide on how to prevent cavities in children’s teeth.
How to Prevent a Cavity
Regular visits to your dentist are key, but to ensure that cavities don’t develop these simple steps should be taken:
- Examine your child’s diet
- Are they eating too many starchy and sugary snacks, drinks or foods? If so, replace sugary snacks with natural foods such as fruit, vegetables, and cheese. You should also replace
sugary drinks with plain water.
- Cut out the snacks
- We all snack when there is no need for it and children are no different. Eating healthy snacks are ok but children are more than likely to snack on sugary foods. As we naturally produce more saliva after mealtime, it’s best to save snacks until then. Ensure that they also drink plenty of water to wash away the sugar from their teeth. Better yet, replace these snacks with carrots or another healthy alternative.
- Get rid of the sippy cup
- If your child is still drinking from a sippy cup, it’s time to move them onto something else. The small amount of liquid emitted from the spout enables sugary liquids to continually coat the teeth.
- Avoid sticky foods
- Some foods such as toffee enables plaque to form really quickly, and can also end up stuck to teeth.
- Drinks at bedtime
- Try not to send your child to bed with a bottle or sippy cup, unless it contains water. Leaving them to sip milk, sugary drinks, formula or juice is a recipe for disaster. Give your child a plain drink before bedtime and follow through with a good brushing of their teeth.
- Brush and floss
- In addition to brushing twice daily, flossing should be done at least once throughout the day (usually at night time). To ensure that your child brushes every area of the teeth effectively and properly, help them out with this task until they are about seven years old. Speak to your dentist about the best toothpaste for children’s teeth, as fluoride toothpastes are not usually recommended for children under 2 years of age.
- Regular dental check ups
- Don’t forget to take your child to the dentist every six months. Even if there is nothing wrong with their teeth, it’s a good habit to get your child into as it will help them to form good oral habits and routines for life.
How can You Spot a Cavity?
If your child is unlucky enough to have developed a large cavity in a tooth, it will be very painful. They may show a heightened sensitivity to cold/warm foods & spicy foods, or they may complain about a toothache which may cause them to wake up at night crying.
However, small cavities are often not painful at all, or can develop between the teeth where they are very difficult to see. To spot these kinds of cavities, it’s recommended to take your child for regular visits to your dentist.