Tooth decay can happen when foods containing carbohydrates (sugars and starches) are left on the teeth. Bacteria that normally live in the mouth change these foods, making acids. The combination of bacteria, food, acid, and saliva form a substance called plaque that sticks to the teeth. Over time, the acids made by the bacteria eat away at the tooth enamel, causing cavities. Tooth decay not only affects our health, but it can also be very painful.
While brushing and flossing are two of the most important daily habits for maintaining healthy teeth and gums, there are a few easy things you can do to help keep cavities away.
Brush Teeth at Least Twice per Day
Teach your children to brush their teeth at least twice per day using toothpaste that contains fluoride. To remove the plaque and harmful bacteria, you should brush for at least two minutes. Make it fun by singing a song like Happy Birthday or Jingle Bells twice while brushing.
Don’t Forget to Floss
Floss, Floss, Floss. Cavities like to hide between your teeth. Sometimes flossing is the only way to reach the food particles that get stuck between teeth. Teach your little ones to floss at least once a day.
Eat Nutritious Foods and Balanced Meals
Nutritious foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, are high in vitamins and minerals that are important for good dental health. What our children eat, or don’t eat, affects how their teeth develop.
Check out Five Nutrition Tips for Healthy Kids’ Smiles for more information about nutrition and dental health.
Ask for Dental Sealants
To help reduce the risk of tooth decay on the permanent back molars, The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that children receive sealants as soon as they erupt, which is usually between six and twelve years of age. Dental sealants are a hard plastic coating applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (molars) that create a barrier to protect them from acid and plaque, reducing the risk of cavities.
Choose Products With Xylitol
Xylitol is a natural sweetener derived from the fibrous parts of plants, that doesn’t break down like sugar and can help maintain a neutral pH level in the mouth. It protects the teeth from decay by preventing bacteria from sticking to the teeth. Because bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities are unable to digest xylitol, their growth is greatly reduced.
Schedule Regular Cleanings and Exams
Regular visits can help find potential problems early and help kids get used to visiting the dentist. We recommend you bring your child in every 6 months for a check-up. Schedule an appointment today.
Tooth decay can be prevented. With the right care and healthy habits, your child can grow up to have a lifetime of healthy teeth and smiles.
At Growing Healthy Smiles Pediatric Dentistry, we focus on preventive care and education to keep your little one’s teeth healthy. We want to help you and your family avoid common dental health issues like cavities and decay, so we do everything we can to keep parents informed about proper oral hygiene habits. If you ever have any concerns or questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at (904) 215-7800.
We look forward to helping your child grow a healthy smile!