We have some bad news: tooth decay is one of the most common diseases to affect children. The good news is that it is preventable with proper oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups! At Kid Focus Dentistry in Wheat Ridge, we want parents to know what causes tooth decay in children and how they can help prevent it before cavities start.
What Causes Tooth Decay in Children?
Children often consume sugary foods and drinks, which can contribute to plaque buildup and cavities. But those aren’t the only reasons kids get cavities. Tooth decay is caused by natural bacteria in the mouth that feed on sugars, processed carbs, and even natural foods, and then produce acid. When this acid combines with food particles and saliva, it forms plaque, a sticky film that can cling to teeth and gums. Plaque buildup is acidic, so it isn’t removed properly every day, it can lead to cavities or holes in teeth.
Children are especially susceptible to tooth decay because their teeth are not as strong and dense as the permanent teeth we see in adults. It can also be hard for them to reach all of the tiny spaces in their mouth, allowing plaque to sit in places longer than it should.
Tips to Prevent Tooth Decay in Children
As a kid’s dentist in Wheat Ridge, we believe that by working together, we can help prevent tooth decay and keep your child’s teeth healthy and strong. There are plenty of easy steps you can take to help prevent your little one from developing tooth decay, and these are some of our best pearls of wisdom:
- Start good oral hygiene habits early. It’s important to establish good oral hygiene habits in children as early as possible. Even before your child’s first tooth appears, you can gently wipe their gums with a soft, damp cloth to remove bacteria. Once their teeth start to come in, you can begin brushing them.
- Limit sugary foods and drinks. Sugary foods and drinks can be a major contributor to tooth decay in children. Try to limit your child’s intake of fruit juice, sports drinks, soda, and other sugary treats. Instead, offer them water between meals and try to incorporate healthy snacks like fruits and vegetables into their diet.
- Encourage regular brushing and flossing. Children should brush their teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each time. Encourage them to brush all surfaces of their teeth, including the fronts, backs, and chewing surfaces, but be sure to help them until they can tie their own shoes (and after that if they’ll let you.) Flossing is also important for removing plaque and food particles from between teeth. Making it a fun game or using a song can often inspire young children to brush longer.
- Use fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride is a natural mineral that can help strengthen tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay. Look for toothpaste that contains fluoride, and use a rice-grain sized smear when brushing your infant or toddlers teeth. Preschoolers and older children should use a pea-sized amount.
- Consider dental sealants. Dental sealants are a thin, plastic coating that can be applied to the chewing surfaces of molars to protect them from decay. They are typically recommended for children between the ages of 6 and 14 but may be appropriate for younger or older children as well.
- Visit a kid’s dentist regularly. Regular dental check-ups are an important part of preventing tooth decay in children. Your child’s dentist can detect early signs of decay and provide treatment before it becomes a bigger problem. Additionally, Kid Focus Dentistry can provide guidance on proper oral hygiene and answer any questions you may have about your child’s dental health.
Schedule Your Child’s Checkup
At Kid Focus Dentistry, we believe that prevention is the key to good dental health. That’s why we recommend that children visit the dentist every six months for a check-up and cleaning. During these appointments, we will examine your child’s teeth and gums for any signs of decay, and provide a thorough cleaning to remove plaque and tartar buildup. Our team of friendly, experienced dental professionals is dedicated to helping children develop good oral hygiene habits and maintain healthy smiles for life. Schedule your child’s checkup today!