While your kids definitely have to get used to the idea of seeing the dentist for regular check-ups, the extra appointments to fill cavities might just be avoidable. Although you may need to monitor your child closely to make sure these cavity-fighting tips are actually carried out, it will be well worth it in the long run. Read on to learn about why cavities form, and what you can do as a parent to avoid them.
Why Do Cavities Form?
When the teeth are exposed to a certain environment, cavities start to form. Cariogenic bacteria, also known as "bad" bacteria, and fermentable carbohydrates merge to cause decay, which in turn causes cavities. While every human mouth will be exposed to these things, at least to some degree, you can limit the impact that they have.
Sure, most parents know that their kids need to floss between their teeth, but they may not really know why. Although basic brushing can do a lot to clean the teeth, the toothbrush just can't get to those narrow areas between the teeth. Cavities form in those very areas, and daily flossing is the best way to make sure they are really clean. Flossing at the end of the day is best, because it means that all the accumulated germs and sugars can be removed at once.
While a reduction in sugar might not be the most popular thing with the kids, it can make a big difference in terms of cavities later. Sugars are consumed by the bacteria in the mouth and then transformed into highly damaging acids. These acids cause cavities. Thus, the less frequently that sugars are eaten, the less damaging acids will be in your child's mouth.
The simplest of these cavity-fighting tips is also one of the most impactful: Use water containing fluoride! The American Dental Association says that fluoride is the single most important reason that tooth decay is less common today than it was in decades past. Water contains fluoride naturally, and many community water supplies are adjusted to the ideal fluoride level for good dental health.
The American Dental Association recommends 0.7 parts fluoride in every million parts of water. You can find out how much fluoride your local water has at the Environmental Protection Agency. For people who live in areas where the water is not sufficiently fluoridated, consider speaking to a pediatric dentist (like Brit E. Bowers, DDS) about topical fluoride treatments to fight cavities.