Did you know that cavities are among the most common chronic childhood diseases in the United States? According to the CDC, more than half of children between the ages of 6 and 8 have had a cavity in a baby tooth. And, more than half of adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19 have had one form in a permanent tooth.
If left untreated, this type of tooth decay can cause pain and infections that may lead to difficulty eating, speaking, playing, and learning.
But, with good dental hygiene and a bit of work on the parents’ part, cavities are easy to prevent. Read on to learn 5 essential tips for keeping your kids’ teeth in top condition, brought to you by the top pediatric dentist in Elizabethtown.
1. Brushing and Flossing – Habits for Life
A recent study at Brown University indicated that both healthy and unhealthy habits in children are formed by age 9. So, early childhood is the right time to establish a regular dental hygiene routine.
Just like adults, kids’ teeth should be brushed twice a day, for 2 full minutes. Flossing should be done once a day, before bedtime.
Be sure to use a kids-sized soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle motions if you’re still brushing your child’s teeth for them. And, if they’re doing it themself, keep a close eye on how thorough a job they’re doing. It’s also important to brush the gums and tongue.
You can also make flossing easier by using floss picks until your child is old enough to manage a roll of floss on their own.
2. Tooth-friendly Nutrients and Fluoride
Everyone has heard the old saying – you are what you eat. And, it’s totally true, especially when it comes to your child’s oral health.
Be sure that your little one’s diet includes plenty of calcium. This can come from sources like milk, cheese, dark leafy green vegetables like kale and broccoli, or even supplements.
It’s also important to include vitamins and nutrients like iron, copper, zinc, potassium, iodine, and vitamin D.
Fluoride is also essential to kids’ dental care. This naturally occurring mineral helps to strengthen their tooth enamel and keep cavities out!
While some areas do have fluoride added to their tap water, it’s still a good idea to visit an Elizabethtown pediatric dentist for regular fluoride treatments. They’re quick and painless, and they can make a massive difference when it comes to keeping childhood tooth decay at bay.
3. Cut Back on Sugar
If you only remember one of these dental tips, make it this one!
Sugar is the top culprit when it comes to cavities and tooth decay, and there is no downside to cutting back on it. This can have positive impacts on your child’s whole health, from their weight to their ability to focus in class – not just their smile.
Try substituting processed sugar and treats like cookies and candy for natural sweets like fruit or sugar-free gum if your child is old enough to chew it safely. And, eliminate unhealthy options like soda and “fruit drinks” altogether.
You should also encourage little ones to get in the habit of brushing their teeth after eating sugar to prevent early cavity formation and decay. Even the top kids’ dentist in Elizabethtown KY can’t undo the damage once it’s already been done.
4. Regular Cleanings Are Key
If you’re already helping establish healthy habits like daily brushing and flossing, keeping your child’s diet in check, and making sure that they get all the extra help they can with minerals like fluoride, you’re off to a great start!
That said, you’ll still need to visit an Elizabethtown kids’ dentist for regular cleaning and checkups. These services help clean areas that you can’t – like below your child’s gum line. And, they can help your family dentist identify any early issues before they have a chance to take hold.
If possible, schedule appointments for every 6 months. Getting into the habit will also help ease any anxiety that your child feels about going to the dentist and help them relax into the routine.
As your child gets older, these routine appointments are when X-rays and other exams will be performed. They also offer you an opportunity, as a parent, to stay on top of your kids’ dental health and avoid any costly or painful surprises later on.
5. Let Sealants Do the Work for You
Your child’s molars are more prone to cavities than front teeth. They’re harder to reach, and they have deeper grooves where food particles can become trapped. This is where decay typically forms first.
Dental sealants are an excellent option for preventing cavities in these hard-to-brush areas. They are completely painless, taking just minutes to apply with a small dental brush and a curing light – and their benefits can last for years!
For the most effective coverage, sealants should be applied to each set of new molars as they erupt. This process begins around the age of 6 or 7.
The Best Pediatric Dentist in Elizabethtown
With this article as your guide, you’re ready to revamp your kids’ dental routine. But, you can’t do it alone. Regular cleaning and checkups are absolutely essential to keeping those little chompers cavity-free.
Contact Elizabethtown Dentistry for Children or call (270) 769-3858 today. We offer a full range of services, including both preventative and restorative dentistry, and an anxiety-free atmosphere where kids and parents alike can relax.
Schedule an appointment to see what makes us the top pediatric dentist in Elizabethtown!