Cavities are things that no parent wants their child to have. But sometimes, they seem to just appear in the blink of an eye. You might think that you’ve done everything correctly. As your child gets older, you might be under the impression that they, too, have done everything correctly in terms of brushing their teeth and all that jazz. Then comes the moment when your child comes up to you and complains that one of their teeth hurts. Uh-oh. You take a look inside their mouth and see a tooth with a dark-colored pit. You take them to the dentist. Viola: it’s a cavity. Instead of accepting this potential fate for your youngster, consider our advice on how to prevent childhood cavities.
Preventing Childhood Cavities Involves Many Factors
If you want to increase your son or daughter’s chances of avoiding cavities, it’s going to take more than just caring for their teeth in the most basic of ways. Some things that are important to do, even early on in your child’s life, include:
Ensure Their Oral Health is Taken Care Of (More Than Just Brushing the Teeth)
Younger children, prior to their first tooth erupting, need their gums wiped twice daily (and after every feeding) with a warm, clean washcloth. As their first tooth appears, it’s time to whip out a child-friendly toothbrush and a small amount of fluoride toothpaste. Flossing comes a bit later once your child develops teeth adjacent to one another.
But it’s not just about remembering to brush your child’s teeth (or them remembering to brush their own teeth if they’re old enough). It’s also about making sure the act of toothbrushing is done properly. Many children forget to brush their teeth or intentionally try to avoid such a task. In addition, some children brush at the wrong pace. Others apply the wrong amount of pressure or just don’t get all crevices and corners while brushing.
Sometimes children just need a friendly reminder. They might also need to be monitored for a while or re-taught if they struggle to get the concept of caring for their teeth done. Other times, you might have to bribe them with a fun-colored toothbrush and fruity-flavored toothpaste. Whatever it takes, parents, get them to get excited about brushing and flossing their teeth, and show them how to do it the right way.
Be Careful with the Sugary Beverages
Parents might be confused why their child has a case of cavities when they’ve been brushing their teeth and eating mostly healthy. However, sometimes tooth decay strikes due to the mere fact that children consume a lot of sugary drinks.
Fruit juices, sodas, chocolate milk, and even breast milk, if consumed enough and left in the mouth for long periods of time, can slowly but surely contribute to cavities, also known as dental caries.
That being said, it’s vital to wash your infant’s gums with a clean, damp washcloth after breastfeeding. And as your little one gets older, get them in the habit of brushing their teeth after consuming anything sugary. At least get them to rinse thoroughly with water after this consumption. Watering down these sugary drinks or, better yet, making them less frequent in your child’s diet can also help your little one avoid potential cavity formation.
Provide Them with Tooth-Friendly Foods
Parents should know that sugary, unhealthy foods can feed the bad oral bacteria in their children’s mouths. The more of these bad foods that your child eats, the more their body will lack and be leeched of the critical nutrients they require to house a healthy set of pearly whites.
However, it’s not always easy to get your children to eat healthily. The good news is, there are still ways to introduce healthy foods in ways that appeal to the majority of kids. Also, the sooner you introduce healthy food (and the less frequently you provide them sugary snacks), the more likely they will become accustomed to eating right.
Some tooth-friendly foods for children and tips for providing such can be found here.
Take Them to the Dentist Twice a Year
The dentist is a safe place for children and adults alike. It also plays an imperative role in the state of everyone’s oral health.
For children, going to the dentist twice a year means a brighter future of good oral health. During these appointments, they get their teeth and gums assessed for pre-existing health problems (or potential risk of such). This means they can get oral health-related problems halted or reversed before they worsen into something more. In addition, dentists can provide children and parents additional tips on how to prevent childhood cavities and other common oral health concerns.
The Disadvantage of Childhood Cavities
Many parents think that cavities during childhood are no big deal. They’re “just” baby teeth, right? But these primary teeth actually play a prominent role in your child’s life. These temporary teeth should be treated as if they’re permanent. They’re a part of your child for now and will be for years.
Not only are cavities painful (and even more so when exposed to sweet, acidic, or extreme temperature foods and beverages), but they can pose other problems in children as well.
If not treated in a timely matter, childhood cavities can lead to serious infections and increasing pain.
In addition, having cavities during childhood has the potential to negatively impact your son or daughter’s speech development, ability to eat, and generally impact their overall health and happiness.
What is more, a longitudinal study found that when one suffers from cavities as a young child, this increases their chances of developing them later in life too. If you want what is best for your child, you would want them to not have to suffer from cavities now (or at any age). In turn, you would want to do anything and everything to prevent childhood cavities in your offspring. This could have a positive impact on the future of their oral health.
What to Do If Your Child Gets a Cavity
While you may be doing everything in your power to prevent cavities in your child, sometimes these types of things do still happen. And sometimes nobody is really to “blame.” We certainly aren’t going to hound you for being a “bad parent” or hound your child for “not doing what they were supposed to do.” All we can do is help, advise, and inform.
If your child gets a cavity (or multiple cavities), the first thing to do is set up an emergency dental appointment. Even if your child’s dentist is all booked up, you can still get them into another dentist. Explain the situation when booking the appointment. Surely, they will understand.
Don’t wait months to get your child to the dentist. Cavities progress and do not heal on their own. They need to be removed in a professional dental setting by a licensed dentist and quickly, too. If not done quickly, your child may need a root canal or even have to have a tooth pulled. Experiences like these can give children bad impressions of dentists and may lead to life-long dental anxiety.
The great thing about going to the dentist for childhood cavities is that not only will the situation be taken care of, but the dentist might be able to provide insight as to why your child might have gotten the cavity. They can also provide advice on how to prevent childhood cavities in the future.
The dentist is always a person you can trust to handle your kiddos’ dental caries. Remember: you are not a bad parent if your child gets a cavity, but still do your best to make sure a cavity doesn’t happen!