How to prevent cavities:
1. Keep plaque off the teeth and gums as much as possible.
Brush at least twice a day. Use a toothpaste with fluoride. Use a soft bristle brush.
Begin to brush when your child’s first tooth appears. Even before her teeth come in you should keep the mouth and gums clean. After nursing, wipe her mouth and gums using a clean, wet cloth, piece of gauze or a toothbrush. When your child begins to wash and dress himself, it is time to have him brush his own teeth. You will need to make sure he does the mouthcare routines until he is ready to accept full responsibility. If the adults in your household care for their teeth and gums, your child will learn the importance of these routines.
Children over 6 years of age should floss once a day.
Begin flossing the teeth when most baby teeth are in. By the time your child is 6 years, she should floss once a day. Just as with brushing, start early to teach your child to floss on her own. Devices are available from your dentist or drugstore to assist with flossing.
Visit a dentist twice a year.
Take your child to a dentist early. Let his first tooth remind you to see a dentist within the first year, preferably at 6 months of age. This visit is more of a training and information session for you, the parents, to discuss hygiene, feeding, and diet. About 40% of 2-3 year-olds already have some inflammation of the gums and/or cavities. Ask the dentist for advice on tooth cleaning, pacifiers, and preventing tooth injuries.
Check whether your child is getting enough fluoride.
Fluoride helps to prevent tooth decay. Your child also gets fluoride from toothpaste and from typical applications from your dentist. Toothpaste with fluoride is a good way to coat the teeth and provide them with added protection. Parents sometimes hear about the danger of too much fluoride. This is hardly ever a problem unless the water supply has too much fluoride. The correct amount is 0.7 to 1.2 parts per million. Phone your municipality and check on the water supply in your area if you are concerned. Another way your child may get too much fluoride is by eating toothpaste. A few children tuck into the toothpaste tube regularly. Excess fluoride consumption can lead to a condition called dental fluorosis. Teach your children to use a pea-size amount of toothpaste for brushing – and never for snacking!
Ask the dentist to apply sealants to the chewing surfaces of permanent back teeth when they come in.
A dental sealant is a plastic coating that can be etched to a tooth’s biting surface. It seals out food and plaque much better than fluoride. Surveys show that 4 out of 5 cavities in children are in these chewing teeth. Sealants are painless to apply and last for several years.
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