Seven Keys to Preventing Cavities
1. Regular Dental Visits
We typically recommend that your child visit our office twice a year for preventive dental visits. There are times when we may request to see you child more or less frequently depending on their specific dental needs.
2. X-Rays as Needed
X-rays are a preventive tool. They can help us identify the presence of cavities and any tooth or bony abnormalities. X-rays allow the dentist to evaluate the eruption sequence of the teeth and potential for crowding before a problem can be seen by the naked eye. Current safety techniques utilized in taking x-rays and the use of lead aprons limits the amount of radiation exposure. Dental disease that goes undetected and untreated can be more harmful to your child than the minimal exposure to radiation received when taking dental x-rays.
3. Consistent Home Care
It’s best to begin cleaning your child’s mouth before the teeth erupt. You can use gauze or a washcloth. Once teeth erupt, you can incorporate a soft bristled toothbrush with training toothpaste. As your child matures, you can introduce toothpaste containing fluoride and flossing when the teeth are touching. It is best to brush at least twice a day, and the best time is after the last feeding or meal. Starting this practice and habit at a young age will help establish a routine for you and your child.
4. A Healthy Diet
The best food choices for the health of your child’s mouth include cheeses, chicken or other meats, nuts, and milk. These foods are thought to protect tooth enamel by providing the calcium and phosphorus needed to remineralize teeth (a natural process by which minerals are redeposited in tooth enamel after being removed by acids).
Other food choices include firm/crunchy fruits (apples and pears) and vegetables. These foods have a high water content, which dilutes the effects of the sugars they contain, and stimulate the flow of saliva, which helps protect against decay by washing away food particles and buffering acid.
Acidic foods, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, and lemons, should be eaten as part of a larger meal to minimize the acid from them.
And finally, poor food choices including candy, cookies, cakes, pies, breads, muffins, potato chips, pretzels, French fries, bananas, raisins, and other dried fruits, all of which contain large amounts of sugar and/or starch can stick to teeth, providing a fuel source for bacteria.
5. Lots of Water
The best beverage choices include water (especially fluoridated water) and milk. It’s especially important for kids to limit or avoid sugar containing drinks, including soft drinks, lemonade, and sugary fruit juices. Day long sipping of sugary drinks exposes teeth to constant sugar and, in turn, constant decay causing acids.
Fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral, can help strengthen teeth to either reverse or prevent the harmful effects of the acid produced by bacteria in the mouth. When using a toothpaste containing fluoride, it is best to use a smear up to 3 years of age and a pea-size amount for the 3-6 year old. For the most accurate and up to date information you can also check out the American Dental Association Website.
A sealant is a tooth-colored thin liquid that flows into the grooves on the chewing surfaces of baby and permanent molars. This creates an impenetrable physical barrier to prevent bacteria from entering into the deep crevices found on the teeth to cause cavities. Sealants have been used for several decades and can significantly reduce cavities.