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Franklyn Alexander, DDS
General & Cosmetic Dentistry

Patients Choice Winner 2016

Helping Children Avoid Cavities

You make every effort to take the best care of your kids – you watch their diet, make sure they get exercise, and take them to the doctor for checkups – but what about their teeth? Many parents are under the impression that dental care isn’t as important for children as it is for adults, since the first set of teeth isn’t permanent. In fact, “baby” teeth have the essential job of maintaining the spaces where the adult teeth will eventually grow.

When baby teeth become damaged or decayed, it can greatly affect the way that a child’s adult teeth grow later. On the same note, healthy gums are every bit as important for children as they are for adults; gum disease that begins in childhood can continue to plague us as adults if not treated promptly. Below is a list of several ways to make sure your child is in the best dental health possible.

Supervise Teeth Brushing

Dentists recommend that parents brush their children’s teeth until the child reaches about six years old. After your child begins brushing on their own, it’s a good idea to keep supervising them for a while in order to make sure they’re brushing correctly and for the right amount of time (about two minutes). The same goes for flossing- generally kids develop the dexterity to floss on their between the ages of eight to ten, but flossing for them until then reinforces a good hygiene routine so they’re more inclined to continue it as adults.

Replace Toothbrushes Every Six to Twelve Weeks

Kids don’t know or care when it’s time to replace a toothbrush, so make sure you’re paying attention to the state of your child’s brush- when the bristles begin to look frayed or worn, it’s time for a new one. Since children’s toothbrushes are often softer and more easily worn down, your child will likely need a new brush before you do. You’ll also want to replace their brushes after an illness, and store your children’s toothbrushes separately when one is ill so as not to infect the other.

Pay Attention to Diet

Cavities are on the rise in preschool age children even though many parents are under the impression they’re feeding a healthy diet. One culprit is bottled water- adults often think it must be cleaner than tap water, and give it to their kids daily. While it’s a good idea to filter tap water, most cities in the US include fluoride in the water supply. This fluoride plays a big part in keeping your kids’ teeth and gums healthy; with every sip, they’re fighting cavities and decay. Another way to cut down on the likelihood of cavities is to limit the amount of sweet food and drinks your child gets. Many children have a cup or bottle of juice on hand nearly all the time, when in fact sugary fruit juices aren’t doing teeth any favors. The combination of sugar and acidity in these juices makes them a favorite food for cavity-causing bacteria.

Visit the Dentist Regularly

Your child should have their first dental visit when the first tooth comes in. After this, making regular visits to a dental office is an important step in keeping your children’s mouths healthy. Since many children are uncomfortable at the dentist, it may be worth your time to seek out a pediatric dentist’s office- these offices are generally geared towards making kids comfortable, and the staff are well-versed in dealing with children.