Top 5 Ways to Keep Kids Cavity Free
More than 16 million kids
in the United States suffer from untreated tooth decay in the United States, making
it the most common chronic childhood disease. Fortunately, dental caries (aka cavities)
Bacteria that eat away at the tooth’s enamel, thereby demineralizing the hard tissues,
tooth decay. Holes and other structural damage occur, which must be treated
with fillings, crowns or root canals, depending on the extent of the damage. Untreated
tooth decay can lead to tooth loss and gum disease—not to mention pain and a decreased
quality of life.
Recent research also shows that oral health affects students’ academic performance.
“The Impact of
Oral Health on the Academic Performance of Disadvantaged Children,” a study
appearing in the September 2012 issue of the American Journal of Public Health,
reports that students with toothaches were almost 4 times more likely to have a
low grade point average.
They also determined that:
- About 11 percent of students with inaccessible needed dental care missed school compared with 4 percent of those with access
- Per 100 elementary school—aged child, 58 hours of school were missed annually
- Per 100 high school—aged children, 80 hours of school were missed annually
- Parents missed an average of 2.5 days of work or school annually due to their children’s dental problems
Follow these five tips to help your kids stay cavity-free and improve their overall
- Eat well
Cavity-causing bacteria feast on sugar. Eating sugary foods, especially sticky ones
that cling to teeth, provides increased opportunity for decay. On the other hand,
crunchy fruits and vegetables such as apples, carrots, and celery, increase saliva
production. Saliva helps wash away food particles and bacteria. Cheese has also
been linked to combating dental caries. Read Oral B’s article “Foods that Prevent Tooth Decay” to learn more about eating
for a healthy smile!
- Practice good oral care
Practicing good hygiene at home goes far in preventing tooth decay. Make sure everyone
in your family brushes twice and flosses at least once per day. Help your child
get into the habit—and make sure it’s done properly. It is especially important
to brush after eating sugary foods.
It’s easy to get busy and “just forget,” or give up after battling brushing-resistant
kids,” but oral hygiene needs to be a priority. In summer 2012, less than half of
parents (44 percent) responding to a survey from the Advertising Council reported that their
children brush twice a day or more. The organization recently joined forces with
leading dental organizations to launch a kids oral health campaign that heavily
stresses the importance of brushing for 2 minutes twice a day—just 4 minutes out
of 24 hours! The campaign’s website
www.2min2x.org includes 2-minute videos and music clips that children can
watch and listen to while brushing their teeth for the recommended time.
Drinking fluoridated drinking water also help prevent decay. If your family drinks
bottled water or does not live in an area where water is fluoridated, discuss fluoride
sources with your dentist.
- Visit the dentist
Make sure your child visits the dentist for regular exams and cleanings. The American
Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends children see a pediatric dentist every six months. The dentist will look for early signs
of decay and treat them before they worsen or become more expensive to treat. Professional
cleanings are also more thorough than those we perform at home. This is also an
opportune time to discuss any concerns and ask questions. If your child needs an
extra nudge in the brushing and flossing department, who better than the dentist
to remind him or her?
- Consider sealants
Talk to your child’s dentist about dental sealants. These plastic coatings are applied
to teeth, typically the permanent molars, to help prevent decay. The Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention recommends them for children age 6 and older whose
permanent molars are coming in.
- Avoid sharing bacteria
Saliva exchanged from parents to children can carry decay-causing bacteria. The
American Dental Association reminds parents not to share
feeding spoons or lick pacifiers before giving them to children. An article published in Parents magazine explains more about
this surprising link between parental tooth decay and child tooth decay.
Practicing prevention goes a long ways, especially with tooth decay. Following these
tips won’t take much time or cost much, and it will help your child build healthy
habits for a lifetime.