How to: Prevent cavities
Cavities are caused by a combination of:
- High sugar consumption
- Lack of oral hygiene
1) LIMITING BACTERIA PROLIFERATION ON THE TEETH
Each of us develops decay-causing bacteria as an infant. While we may limit the amount of bacteria present by brushing and flossing, complete elimination of bacteria is impossible. The remaining bacteria must be modified in order to reduce the risk of dental decay.
2) DIET MODIFICATION
We recommend a diet low in sugar and regular brushing. These two practices will prevent dental decay.
Every time a child eats, an acid reaction occurs inside their mouth as the bacteria metabolize the sugar in the food. This reaction lasts approximately 20 minutes. During this time, the acid environment may destroy tooth structure, causing cavities. By reducing the number of times a child snacks, you reduce the number of exposures to this process and, therefore, reduce the risk for dental decay.
3) IMPROVING ORAL HYGIENE
Improving oral hygiene is critical to reducing the amount of time the cavity-causing bacteria stay on your child’s teeth. A proper oral hygiene routine involves brushing twice daily (including the tongue) and flossing once daily. You don’t have to wait until bedtime to brush and floss your child’s teeth, nighttime brushing and flossing should occur after the last snack or meal has been eaten.
The consistency of a person’s saliva also makes a difference in determining one’s risk for dental decay. Thinner saliva breaks up and washes away food more quickly. Thicker saliva allows food, sugar and bacteria to remain on the teeth for a prolonged period.
Tips for cavity prevention:
- Limit frequency of meals and snacks.
- Encourage brushing, flossing and rinsing.
- Watch what you drink (soda, juice and sports drinks contain sugar)
- Avoid sticky food.
- Make treats a part of meals, not a snack.
- Choose nutritious snacks.
A child’s primary teeth are important as they not only hold space for the developing permanent teeth but also are important for chewing, biting, speech and appearance.
Fluoride strengthens teeth and prevents tooth decay. If the water where you live does not contain enough fluoride, your doctor may prescribe fluoride supplements (fluoride drops or pills). Your child would take these pills or drops every night, beginning at about 6 months of age. Only give the prescribed amount of fluoride to your child because too much can cause spots to develop on permanent teeth.