Children’s Dental Health

Children need healthy teeth and mouths to chew food easily, speak clearly and smile with confidence. Today there are some easy to follow guidelines that make it possible for almost every child to grow up cavity free.

Cavities are the result of both what children eat and how often they eat. Frequent snacking without brushing leaves food on the teeth longer and promotes tooth decay. All foods can cause tooth decay in the absence of good oral hygiene. Table sugar (sucrose) was once considered the only dietary source of cavities, but recent research shows that cooked starches also play a role. When foods such as bread, corn flakes, pasta, crackers and potato chips are allowed to remain in the mouth for several hours, bacteria produce acids that attack teeth and cause cavities.  Save sugars and cooked starches for mealtime when saliva is produced and foods and beverages that rinse the teeth are consumed.

Steps to a Healthy Smile

It takes a while to brush your smile!  Brush your child’s teeth carefully at least twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste. By eight or nine years old, children can be expected to be able to adequately brush on their own.

Floss is the boss!  It’s very important to floss your child’s teeth once each day. Dental floss reaches areas in-between teeth that a toothbrush cannot, and is an essential part of cavity prevention. Flossing can be difficult for children, so until they are 11 to 12 years old, be sure you help them complete this task correctly.

Think before you eat or drink!  It’s important to eat a well balanced diet and avoid excessive snacking between meals – especially sticky, sweet things like candy.

Be good to those gums!  Keep an eye on your child’s gums! Puffy, red and tender gums, persistent bad breath, and gums that bleed are signs of gum disease.

Get plenty of fluoride!  Fluoride plays a protective role against dental decay throughout life. Community fluoridation is the single most effective public health measure we have to prevent tooth decay and improve oral health. Your child should be getting enough fluoride through drinking water and fluoridated toothpaste, but if you have questions regarding your child’s fluoride intake, ask Dr. Parker.

Seal out decay!  Many of the cavities found in children under age 15 develop on the chewing surfaces of back molars. Molars commonly decay because plaque accumulates in the tiny grooves of the chewing surfaces. Have sealants applied to these surfaces of permanent molars soon after they come in to help seal out decay.

Don’t wait till it’s too late! Visit Dr. Parker regularly for preventative checkups and cleanings. Dr. Parker is trained to see hidden problems that you may not recognize. Prevention is key to having a healthy smile!