Kids and cavities: common causes and tips for prevention

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Happy February from Chichetti and Patel Dental Wellness! February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. In this month’s blog, we want to put a spotlight on our pediatric patients.

Let’s just put it out there. Most kids don’t love to brush. I hear it from parents, our young patients, and with my children. It’s a daily struggle for most. We see the effects day in and day out, that diet and lack of good hygiene habits can affect young teeth. This month, I’d like to highlight some of the pitfalls and common causes for cavities and pass along some tips and tricks as parents and caregivers we can use to prevent the dreaded cavity.

PITFALL #1 – NOT BRUSHING OFTEN ENOUGH OR LONG ENOUGH

The Golden rule – brush 2 times a day for 2 minutes. Often, we see our young patients only brushing 1 time a day and not spending a full 2 minutes brushing.

Tips:
-Brush after dinner instead of before bed to make sure it happens
-Avoid snacks after brushing at night
-Set a timer or utilize an electric toothbrush that has a timer built in to make sure that you are hitting the 2-minute mark

PITFALL #2 – NOT BRUSHING EVERY TOOTH OR EVERY SURFACE OF THE TOOTH

We can tell pretty quickly if some areas are getting missed. This can lead to cavities and bleeding in the gums. The most common sites we see getting missed are the very back teeth and at the gumline.

Tips:
-Use a small brush head to get the hard-to-reach areas
-Brush your child’s teeth for the first 30 seconds, so you know these challenging areas are getting done, then let them do the remaining 90 seconds
-help them floss

PITFALL #3 – A SUGARY DIET

Everyone loves a sweet treat! The sodas, juices, and sugary snacks we crave can wreak havoc in our mouths. Does that mean we shouldn’t indulge? Not necessarily, just couple them with the tips below.

Tips:
-Avoid sipping on juice and soda throughout the day. Serve juice/sodas at mealtimes and have them sip on water the rest of the day.
-For candies and sweet snacks, serve in moderation, and encourage brushing or rinsing their mouths after they finish. Avoid things that cause prolonged exposure to sugar, like lollipops, hard candies, and sticky candies.

With the above-listed tips, we want to encourage drinking lots of water. Preferably tap water because it contains fluoride, which helps protect the tooth’s enamel. Water decreases dry mouth, lubricates the teeth, and helps prevent cavities. A good diet, good oral hygiene habits that include flossing, a fluoridated mouth rinse, and regular 6-month visits to our office will go a long way in helping combat cavities and gum disease.

We look forward to seeing everyone’s bright smiles in the months to come!

Dr. Patel