by Dr. Christine Coughlin DDS
It’s a question that every parent wants to know: How do I help my kids prevent cavities? Do you want to learn how to save your money and your sanity and prevent cavities in your family for life? Moms, can I get an “Amen”?
With all the information (and misinformation) out there, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out what is best for your family. We’ve solved that problem for you, friend.
Here are ten easy tips to prevent cavities in kids for life!
Get regular check-ups and cleanings
Bring your kids in every 3-6 months so that we can detect any issues before they turn into BIG (and expensive) problems.
It’s also important that we professionally remove all tartar and plaque buildup that kids can’t remove themselves with brushing & flossing at home.
Use an electric toothbrush
Electric toothbrushes have many benefits – especially since they do most of the work for us! Here are some of the benefits the extra cleaning power can achieve:
- Superior plaque removal and gum cleaning
- Easy to use, and helps kids brush more effectively
- Removal of external stains for whiter teeth
- Builds better brushing habits with features like a 2 minute timer (and let’s be honest, our kid’s version of 2 minutes is very different from a true 2 minutes)
Floss like a boss
You don’t have to floss all your teeth…
Just the ones you want to keep!
When it comes to flossing most people, kids and adults alike, hate to floss (not the silly dance move ’cause everyone loves that one). But NOT flossing is NOT an option – it’s the ONLY way to remove food and bacteria from between the teeth.
If your kids have difficulty flossing, a children’s floss pick is the second best option – they’re the perfect size for cleaning between little teeth in a tiny mouth.
Use a toothpaste with fluoride to prevent cavities
Fluoride has been proven to be safe and effective in preventing cavities by strengthening tooth enamel. Despite the controversy, fluoride is safe when used in the correct amount.
How much toothpaste is the right amount for your child?
0-3 years: size of a grain of rice
3 + years: size of a pea*
*Switch to a pea-sized amount of toothpaste when children are able to spit out excess toothpaste. Fluoride products should not be swallowed, so it is important to supervise your child when brushing. Fluoridated mouth-rinse are not recommended for children under age six.
Get topical fluoride at your dental visit
At your children’s regular check-ups, we offer professional application of fluoride. Topical fluoride has been shown to be the most effective way to strengthen the tooth enamel so it is resistant to decay.
This is usually suggested for children up to age 18.
But topical fluoride application is also helpful and recommended for adults with higher risk for cavities.
Check the fluoride levels in your tap water
Go to ncc.cdc.gov to see if your county has fluoride in its drinking water. If the fluoride levels are too high, it can cause Fluorosis and tooth discoloration.
If you live somewhere that doesn’t have fluoridated tap water, we’ve got you covered. Come see us every 3 months for topical fluoride application to keep your child’s teeth strong and cavity free.
Get sealants to prevent tooth decay
Sealants cover and protect the deep grooves and pits of the chewing surface of permanent teeth, helping to prevent cavities where kids may struggle to brush.
Sealants are covered by most dental insurance, ask if your child would benefit from sealants at their next visit!
Make smart food choices & drink lots of water
Not all foods and drinks are created equal when it comes to preventing cavities. Limit chewy, sticky foods and processed sugary treats. Instead, eat natural sugars, like those found in fruit and milk, with protein to reduce the risk of cavities.
Water is the safest bet when giving your child something to drink. It naturally cleans away food and bacteria from the mouth, and it’s the only way to keep your body hydrated and healthy.
Teach your kids from an early age to enjoy eating real, whole foods for a lifetime of great health and beautiful smiles!
Mind your mouth
Did you know that cavity causing bacteria is contagious? And parents with untreated cavities can put their kids at risk for decay and gum disease? Do not share spoons, straws, etc. with your baby and do not use your mouth to clean your baby’s pacifier.
Lead by example & supervise
Kids learn by example from their parents, so show them great oral hygiene habits to encourage them to do the same!
Make sure to supervise your kids to ensure they brush properly for the right amount for time. Kids can brush without assistance around age 6 when they have the dexterity to tie their own shoes.
Make it fun!
Lastly, kids need positive reinforcement to motivate them to practice good oral hygiene. They want to make their parents proud. So, praising and rewarding your kids when they floss and brush their teeth (twice a day for two whole minutes) is a powerful way motivate them to do this more!
So there you have it! 10 easy steps to prevent cavities in kids for life!
Get regular check-ups and cleanings, use an electric toothbrush, and floss daily for great oral hygiene to prevent cavities and gum disease.
Use a toothpaste with fluoride, get topical fluoride at your dental visit, check the fluoride levels in your tap water, and get Sealants to strengthen tooth enamel against decay.
Make smart food choices and drink lots of water for optimal health and cavities prevention.
Mind your mouth and prevent the spread of cavity-causing bacteria to your kids.
Lead by example and make sure to supervise your children until they’re old enough to brush and floss on their own.
Lastly, make it fun and motivate your kids with positive reinforcement.
We know you’ve got this! We created this guide because we’re passionate about empowering you & your family with the tools and knowledge for an amazing smile for life. A life free of easily preventable dental problems so that you can THRIVE.
Because YOU ARE WORTH IT, friend.
Stay tuned for more helpful dental tips to make your life easier. And come see us in person! Book online at Thrivedentist.com.
If you have any questions feel free to ask! Write your question to: firstname.lastname@example.org. And write “Question for Dr. Christine” in the subject line.
We can’t wait to meet you!