Oral Care Experts at Red Seal Share Tips to Keep Kid’s Smiles Healthy
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Cavities are one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Over half of children between ages 6 and 8 have had a cavity in one of their baby teeth, and 57% of teenagers between ages 12 and 19 have had a cavity in their permanent teeth. Besides regular brushing and flossing, there is more that parents and kids can be doing to help improve oral health and avoid problems like cavities.
Cavities can be caused by bacteria, foods, acids, and saliva. Foods with sugars and starches in them, like candy, soda, cake, juices, milk, and cereals, become acidic from the bacteria in kids' mouths. Acids can sit around kids’ teeth and break down the protective enamel coating, which can lead to cavity formation.
In addition to regular brushing and flossing at least twice a day, parents can help their kids protect the health of their mouths and teeth by:
Drinking more water – drinking water can help wash stuck foods, especially sugar and starches, off the teeth helping to keep acid from forming.
Don’t always drink filtered water – most city water systems contain fluoride, which can help strengthen tooth enamel. If your water doesn’t contain fluoride, consider having regular fluoride treatments at the dentist.
Avoid sticky snacks between meals – it’s not just sugar that is the cavity culprit. Snacks like crackers, pretzels, and other starchy foods can get stuck on teeth for hours. If kids have a sticky snack, have them swish water around their mouth after eating to help remove stuck-on bits.
Try not to share eating utensils between family members – taking a bite of food off mom or dad’s fork or spoon, or mom or dad having a lick of a child’s ice cream might seem harmless, but everyone’s mouth has different bacteria, and cavity bacteria from one mouth could transfer to another.
For kids with deep grooves in their back teeth, ask dentists about sealants that can add another protective layer and help make those hard-to-reach areas easier to clean.
Chew gum between meals and after snacks – according to the American Dental Association, chewing gum can increase saliva in the mouth, which can help reduce plaque acid and help prevent cavities from forming.