It is widely known that brushing, flossing, and seeing your dentist every 6 months help prevent cavities. So then why do some 4 million preschoolers still have cavities that need treated every year? Even with great oral hygiene habits like brushing and flossing every day, there are some factors you may not be aware of that can lead to tooth decay and cavities. For example, bad bacteria that can lead to decay is actually passed through saliva from family members, usually mothers, by sharing eating utensils and drinking after each other. Babies aren’t born with this bacteria, they acquire it from others they come in close contact with. If you have had cavities in your lifetime you have more than likely passed this bacteria onto your toddler. It is possible to prevent cavities even with these obstacles by following good practices and healthy eating habits from the start.
The Start of a Cavity
Cavities and decay are caused by bacteria mixing with acids in the mouth that can stick to the surface of teeth and start to eat away at enamel. The top culprit in creating excess acid in the mouth is sugar. Unfortunately, our diets are higher in sugar content than they have ever been. Anytime your child drinks a liquid that isn’t water or eats snacks that aren’t natural fruits or veggies the sugars combine with the bacteria in their mouth to create acid.
Even in babies that have no visible teeth this acid can damage teeth just beginning to break through the surface. A good rule of thumb is to only allow water in cups or bottles before sleep. Gently clean baby’s gums after feedings to eliminate harmful acids that can cause damage. It is recommended to start regular dental checkups at least by the age of two to identify problems early.
As teeth start to come in immediately begin a brushing routine with a fluoride based toothpaste. Don’t share toothbrushes with your little one as this can also pass bacteria from your mouth to theirs. Fluoride is a known protectant that helps build up strong enamel on teeth and helps with the prevention of cavities. Your dentist may suggest using a fluoride rinse as well. Dental exams every six months will help identify problems early before cavities have had time to damage your child’s teeth. You may choose to have a sealant applied to little teeth providing a barrier for damaging acid.
Choose snacks carefully for your kids taking the time to choose foods that are not heavily processed and contain low amounts of sugars. Crunchy fruits and vegetables and low fat cheeses make great snacks that actually promote strong teeth and gums. Set a good example by also choosing healthy snacks and demonstrating great brushing and flossing habits to improve your smile and overall health as well.
And as always, we highly recommend visiting your dentist at least every 6 months for a checkup. Have you scheduled your next appointment? If not, contact the Central Dental location nearest you or give us a call at 501-725-0616.