Four-year-old Evan had another cavity; this was his tenth one in the past year including the root canal last month. His mom, Amy, was frustrated. She had assumed that Evan’s teeth were just prone to decay because she’d had a lot of cavities when she was a kid, but he’d had so many in the past year that now she was getting worried.
Amy tried to give Evan and his little brother healthy foods and snacks and once in a while the boys ate sweet treats, but not enough to cause so many cavities, she thought.
Dental cavities in children declined from the 1970s to the 1990s. Then in the mid 1990s, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that there has was a reversal with a significant rise in primary tooth decay in younger children.
Fighting your children’s cavities may be easier than you think. In a phone interview Dr. Yolanda Weaver, DDS in Pediatric and Restorative dentistry, said, “Parents can help their kids avoid cavities. It takes just a few simple changes to make a really big difference.”
Five tips that will help you fight your kids’ cavities:
The best tip for parents is to get their kids in the habit of brushing twice a day-make it a regular part of their daily routine-so it’s not a chore. You can make it fun, reward their progress. When your kids are young, you should brush their teeth for them to be sure their teeth are getting cleaned properly. In a recent phone interview, Pat Robinson, the team leader dental hygienist at Gentle Dental Associates in Ann Arbor, said, “Parents should teach their children how to brush correctly. This will give them a good foundation. For instance, kids need to be taught to brush not only their back teeth well, but also their front teeth, too. Kids often miss brushing their front teeth.”
Floss removes a fair amount of plaque and tartar buildup. It’s not that important whether your child flosses before or after they brush their teeth, just as long as they floss. Parents need to floss for their kids at first until they have the dexterity.
Limit sticky snacks and fruit juices. When Amy finally asked her dentist about fighting cavities, the advice surprised her. “My dentist told me to stop giving Evan sticky treats and limit his fruit juice. She said these two things are the biggest cause of decay in kids’ teeth. Robinson agrees, “When a child comes into our office with a lot of dental cavities we want to look at what they’re eating and drinking. Many parents give their children apple juice, but it can be just as bad as pop because it’s so high in sugar and acid. We try to encourage parents to limit how much juice their children drink during the day. We also suggest they offer their children acid buffers like milk or yogurt to help offset the acid in juice.”
If your child takes a daily gummy vitamin, you may want to change to another type of vitamin. Gummy vitamins stick to teeth. Anything that sticks to the teeth can cause decay. One mom was shocked to hear that her five year old daughter’s gummy vitamins were probably the cause of her needing a root canal. Most kids’ vitamins come in gummy form because they’re easy to give to children, but there are alternatives on the market.
Snack alternatives, in moderation, are okay. These treats, although they contain sugar, don’t stick to teeth- and that’s the big difference when it comes to cavities. Patrick gave parents a precaution, “When your child eats a baked sugary treat make sure she swishes some water around in her mouth and then brushes soon afterwards.” This will help remove trapped food particles between teeth.
Amy took her dentist’s advice to heart. She stopped handing out fruit snacks for treats, bought regular kids’ vitamins and limited how much juice her boys drank every day. It paid off, at the next dental visit Evan’s teeth were cavity free.