It is recommended to brush your child’s teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once a day. Brushing should begin as soon as the first tooth erupts. Use a toothbrush with a small head with water or a small amount of infant toothpaste. Flossing should start as soon as any teeth contact each other. The first teeth to touch will usually be the last and second last teeth in each quadrant, and these are the most important to floss due to cavity risk. Around the age of 3, you can incorporate a fluoridated toothpaste into your child’s routine by using just a grain of rice size amount on the toothbrush. It is essential to help your child brush and floss their teeth until around the age of eight.
Fluoride is a component in toothpaste and some mouth rinses that help prevent and reduce cavities. Fluoride works by strengthening the enamel (the outer layer of the teeth) to prevent the penetration of bacteria, which causes cavities. It is essential to incorporate fluoride into your child’s routine around the age of 3 with just a small amount on the toothbrush. If a child has had previous cavities or is more at risk for cavities, it is recommended also to add a fluoridated mouth rinse for extra exposure. Remember that fluoride needs to sit on the teeth for 30 minutes after exposure, so no rinsing, drinking or eating after!
Sugar is the leading cause of cavities. Oral bacteria will feast on sugar consumed from food and drinks and turn it into acid, which then causes a risk of cavities. The types of sugar that are particularly cavity causing are any sugars that are gummy, sticky or chewy and will get stuck in the biting surfaces of the teeth, prolonging the exposure. A balanced diet rich in vitamins and low in sugar is vital in reducing cavity risk.
The main culprit for cavities is gummy vitamins, which contain sugar. These vitamins expose the teeth to sugar that gets stuck in the biting surfaces of the teeth and results in cavities. Make sure the vitamins that you buy for your child are sugar-free or contain xylitol.
Lastly, regular dental check-ups and cleanings with your dentist and dental hygienist are a vital component in keeping your child’s teeth and gums healthy. It is recommended to visit your dentist at least every six months, and more frequently if recommended.