Dental caries (the term used for the cavity formation process) is the most common disease of childhood, five times more common than asthma. It is a largely preventable disease and was rarely seen in ancient civilizations. We have developed the following tips to help keep your child's "pearls" healthy.
MOST IMPORTANTLY: Limit snacking, especially on foods that have added sugar or are mainly carbohydrates like crackers, cereal, pretzels, and chips. Additionally:
- Never put a baby to bed with a bottle containing anything but water.
- If nursing, do not leave the baby attached after the feeding.
- While we encourage younger children to develop brushing skills, most children lack the fine motor skills required to effectively brush until the age of six or seven. Parental assistance is usually required up to this time, and parental supervision is required after that.
- Avoid juice, soda and sports drinks which very acidic with pH levels of 3-4. Avoid all drinks that have an acid as an ingredient.
- Avoid products with corn and high fructose corn syrup.
- Limit fruit portions. It is common for parents to give portions that are not appropriate for the child's size.
- Avoid bottled water, most of which is acidic.
- Drink only water and plain milk between meals.
- To satisfy a sweet craving, have gum with xylitol, or reach for salted nuts instead.
- A diet rich in home-made bone broth, grass fed dairy products, spinach, cheese, nuts, seeds, and protein helps fight cavities.
- Brushing with baking soda is great for neutralizing the acids that cause cavities. It is less abrasive than toothpaste. If the taste is objectionable, place toothpaste first then dip the brush in some baking soda.
- Ask us about sealants, a protective coating that fills in the grooves on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth where decay often starts.
- Brushing at least twice a day for a minimum of two minutes. We encourage brushing with a small amount of fluoride toothpaste. For brands that we recommend, please ask!
- Additional products are available that help support a person's ability to fight cavities. If a risk assessment finds that your child is at a high risk for cavities, we would be happy to discuss these research-based products with you to see if they may benefit your child.
Preventing Problems Before They Start
We recommend regular visits to keep your child's pearls healthy. At these visits, we will assess your child's risk factors for developing cavities, detect small problems before they become bigger problems, provide age specific nutritional and hygiene tips, and assess your child's growth and development. We will assess adolescents for the development of periodontal (gum) disease and discuss new developments to keep your child healthy.
Fluoride is a mineral that helps prevent cavities by hardening the enamel (outer surface) of teeth. Although we do support the use of small amounts of topical fluoride, we do not feel it is the primary way to prevent cavities.
Professional application of topical fluoride varnish is a valuable tool in cavity prevention. The benefits from fluoride varnish application has been seen to last up to four months in studies.
For parents who are concerned about their child's exposure to fluoride, we would be happy to discuss our recommendations!
Choosing the Right Toothpaste and Toothbrush
The right toothpaste and toothbrush will vary from child to child. We have recommendations and would be happy to share these at your child's appointment!