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Preventing Cavities in Kids
Wednesday, February 12, 2014 • Posted February 14, 2014

Kids who start early with good dental habits often tend to keep them. Teach kids that dental health is important for overall health, at any age. Below are some suggestions for good habits you can help kids develop.

Snack Attack

Beware of frequent snacking. After school, after sports, after playdates — it can all add up to a problem. Especially when teeth aren’t brushed after snacks. Sugary or starchy snacks can increase the risk for tooth decay. Tooth decay occurs when certain types of bacteria use sugars in food to make acids. Over time, these acids can make a cavity (hole) in the tooth. Be especially aware of fruit snacks- they really stick in teeth, and can stay there for up to 24 hours, creating the perfect recipe for a cavity!

Despite the fact that it’s almost entirely preventable, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children. More than 40 percent of children ages 2 to 11 have had a cavity in their primary (baby) teeth, and more than two-thirds of 16- to 19-year-olds have had a cavity in their permanent teeth. Although overall rates of tooth decay have decreased over the past four decades, decay has actually increased in preschool age children in recent years.

Say Cheese for Better Snacking

Cheese is one of the healthiest snacks for children’s teeth. Packed with calcium and phosphorus, cheese helps protect against damage and decay by strengthening tooth enamel. Cheddar, Swiss, mozzarella and Monterey jack cheeses also stimulate saliva, which helps clear the mouth of food debris and protects against the acids that weaken teeth.

Training Tots

Parents should take their children to the dentist regularly, beginning with the first tooth or by the first birthday. A dentist can recommend a program of brushing, flossing and other treatments for parents to supervise and teach their children.

Brush Up on Tooth-brushing

Tooth-brushing is one of the easiest methods of cavity prevention. Parents should select soft-bristled toothbrushes that clean while being gentle on the gums. Look for toothbrushes that are made for children’s smaller hands and mouths. Toothbrushes with larger handles can help older children control the toothbrush.

You’ll need to brush your preschooler’s teeth. You should supervise the brushing and flossing of school-age children until they are 7 to 8 years old. Remember to throw out a toothbrush after three months, or sooner if the bristles are fraying.

Good oral hygiene practices like thorough brushing with a fluoride toothpaste can help keep children from getting cavities.

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