Preventing Childhood Cavities

WOODS_KATELYN_DMD_DEN_20140828Did you know that cavities are the most common chronic disease of childhood in the United States? Statistically speaking, over 40 percent of children will experience a cavity before they are of kindergarten age.

Cavities can also be very detrimental to the health of our young kids. As they progress, cavities can quickly lead to pain, difficulty eating and sleeping, nutritional deficiencies, and attention problems in school. Additionally, acute dental problems lead to more missed school days in comparison to maintaining a schedule of routine dental care.

So here is the good news: childhood cavities are completely preventable. Here are some tips to keep your child cavity free.

Establish a dental home before your child’s first birthday

• Early visits to the dentist provide education on cavity prevention, oral hygiene practices, dental trauma, growth assessment, and oral habit counseling tailored specifically to your child.
• Additionally, early detection of dental cavities can prevent your child from more serious dental problems.
• Familiarization with the dentist at a young age will help ease future dental anxiety.

Wean your child from the bottle by age one and never put your child to bed with a bottle containing sugary drinks

• The sugar in juice, sports drinks, some flavored waters, and soda will cause cavities very quickly.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends limiting sugar containing beverages to four to six ounces a day.
• Additionally, beverages should only be consumed from a regular cup and during meal time.
• Only water or white milk should ever be consumed from a bottle or sippy cup.

Begin oral health practices no later than the eruption of your child’s first tooth

• Begin brushing your child’s teeth with a soft, age-appropriate toothbrush once the first tooth erupts in the mouth.
• A “smear” of fluoride containing toothpaste should be used for children under 2 years of age.
• A “pea-sized” amount is recommended for children ages 2 to 5.
• Flossing should be performed between any two touching teeth.

For more information on the Division of Pediatric Dentistry, visit www.chp.edu/dental.