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Oral Health Buzz

Kids' Teeth and Cavity Protection

Brenna Stone

Even if you had cavities when you were young, your child doesn't have to develop them. Find out how to protect kids' teeth from tooth decay. Practices like using fluoride to strengthen teeth and eating a balanced diet can set your child up for a healthy smile for life.

What Causes Cavities?

When plaque has the chance to build up on the surface of teeth, the germs in plaque mix with sugars and carbohydrates in the mouth. This dangerous cocktail of bacteria and sugars forms acids that can attack the outer surface of teeth. When this process, known as demineralization, goes unchecked, cavities form. Using fluoride can strengthen the outer enamel of teeth and help to prevent cavities. Brushing and regular dental visits can help to fight plaque. Eating a healthy diet can help to nourish young teeth and gums.

Fluoride and Kids' Teeth

Brushing with a fluoride toothpaste as soon as kids are old enough to spit, getting fluoride treatments at the dentist's office and getting a small amount of this mineral through water and some foods can set your child up for cavity protection. Brush your child's teeth twice a day with toothpaste. Little ones can look forward to brushing with a fun, fruit-flavored toothpaste like Colgate Dora the Explorer. Older kids may enjoy a toothpaste with cavity protection like Colgate Fresh 'N Protect. Talk to your dentist about how much fluoride your child is exposed to. He or she may tell you to use fluoride water or supplements in addition to using a fluoride toothpaste.

Oral Care Essentials for Kids

To fight childhood cavities, use fluoride as part of a healthy oral care routine. When kids are still young, they need help brushing their teeth. For those independent spirits, let them brush first and then you can brush a second time. Floss your child's teeth for her to remove plaque from the gumline and between teeth. Children should start seeing a dentist two times a year around the age of one.

Healthy Eating Habits

Another way to protect your child's teeth from cavities is to make a healthy diet a part of your family's lifestyle. Cut back on sugary snacks and starchy foods. Crunchy foods like apples, carrots, almonds and celery make wonderful snacks for developing teeth. Serve whole grains and plenty of low-fat dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt. Encourage brushing after meals. With good oral hygiene and healthy habits, you can ensure that your kids will be less likely to have to deal with cavities.

Learn more about caring for kids' teeth in the Colgate Oral Care resources.

Source: iStockphoto/Aldra

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