Your child's permanent teeth start to come in around the age of 6. Do you know how to protect them from cavities? Daily brushing and flossing and dental check-ups every six months are the foundation of good oral hygiene for kids, but there is more that you can do to prevent tooth decay.
You have probably been brushing your child's teeth with a fluoride toothpaste since they were old enough not to swallow. This natural mineral offers great cavity protection. It hardens tooth enamel, fortifying teeth against tooth decay. If your drinking water is not fluorinated, your dentist may also have recommended giving your child fluoride water. Before those permanent teeth even emerge this mineral can accumulate in developing teeth, strengthening the enamel before they break through the gum line. To help protect your child's adult teeth, ask your dentist if your child is getting enough fluoride. Depending on his risk for tooth decay, your dentist may suggest adding this mineral through drops or other supplements.
Another way to protect permanent teeth from cavities is with dental sealants. As an in-office procedure, your dentist can apply a thin plastic coating over the chewing surfaces of your child's adult back teeth, the molars and premolars. The coating helps to seal these teeth, preventing tooth decay. Talk to your dentist about this option at your child's next appointment.
What your child eats does matter tremendously. According to the American Dental Association food choices can affect how quickly tooth decay in children develops. The primary culprit of tooth decay is sugar, which is found not only in sweet treats but also healthy foods like milk and fruit. When bacteria mixes with sugars in the mouth an acid forms that attacks teeth for about 20 minutes.
Cut down on unneccesary sugars in your child's diet. Cookies, cupcakes and candy are not doing those brand new adult teeth any favors. Instead, offer your kids a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of foods to help nourish and strengthen teeth like yogurt, nuts, whole grains, fresh veggies and fruits, and healthy proteins. Skip the soda and sugary drinks and serve water or milk. Eating less frequently can also help. Enjoy balanced, nutritious meals with your family. When your little ones are hungry in between meals serve only healthy snacks like cheese and sliced apples or carrot sticks and dip.