The Importance of Good Oral Hygiene for Children — Understanding and Preventing Cavities
As a parent, you understand the importance of good oral hygiene for your child. You may brush their teeth twice a day, limit sugary drinks and snacks, and make sure they have a balanced diet. But despite your efforts, your toddler may still be getting cavities. This can be confusing and concerning, but it’s essential to understand why this happens and what you can do to prevent it.
Cavities in Children: A Common Occurrence
According to one report, about 42% of children aged 2–11 get dental cavities. This may seem surprising, especially if you do everything you can to keep your child’s teeth healthy. However, cavities are prevalent in children.
The Causes of Cavities in Children
One of the main causes of cavities in children is the presence of a type of bacteria called streptococcus mutans. These bacteria feed on sugar and produce acid that weakens the structure of teeth, creating plaque in the process. Over time, the surface of the teeth is affected and can eventually collapse, leading to a cavity.
Babies are born without these bacteria and generally get infected through contact with caregivers. This can happen when you kiss your baby on the mouth, eat with the same utensils, or let them use your toothbrush. If you have cavities yourself, the chances of passing the bacteria on to your child increases.
Preventing Cavities in Children
One of the most important things you can do to prevent cavities in your child is to make sure they brush their teeth correctly. This can be a challenge for babies who may not understand the concept of cavities and may not like having something in their mouth. But with a little creativity and patience, you can make brushing an enjoyable experience for your child.
Here are some ideas for making brushing fun for your toddler:
- Sing a song and dance while brushing.
- Let your child brush a toy’s teeth first.
- Let your child brush their own teeth and praise them for a good job. Then, simply check to make sure they didn’t miss anything.
Visiting a Dentist Early
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Association recommends that babies see a dentist by their first birthday. This early visit can help prevent cavities and provide your child with a positive experience at the dentist. If you wait too long, tooth decay may be well on its way and more difficult to prevent.
Make an appointment with a St. Louis pediatric dentist to learn more about how to care for your child’s teeth. A pediatric dentist can answer any questions you may have and provide you with personalized advice based on your child’s individual needs.
Cavities may be a common occurrence in children. Still, you can keep your child’s teeth healthy and strong with the proper preventative measures. Make sure your child brushes their teeth correctly and schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist by their first birthday. With a little patience and effort, you can help your child have a healthy, confident smile for life.