You head to the dentist expecting the same routine: a cleaning, a quick once-over by the dentist, a new toothbrush and a toy. But this time you hear the news you've dreaded since your child got his first tooth. This is your kid's first cavity. Try not to blame yourself. While it is important for you to help your child care for his teeth, it's not your fault that he has a cavity. The trick now is to learn from this cavity and work hard together to prevent any more from forming. This is particularly important if your child already has most of his permanent teeth since they must last him for the rest of his life.
One of the most powerful things that parents can do is model good oral hygiene for their children. So don't wait until you have the bathroom to yourself to brush your teeth. Make a big deal out of getting out your toothbrush, squeezing out the toothpaste, and brushing your teeth and gumline. Don't forget to floss every day and rinse with mouthwash too. Seeing you taking care of your teeth on a regular basis helps your child see that good oral care is just part of everyday life and not something that he should only do when he happens to remember. It's a habit that will serve him well for life.
That being said, getting kids to brush can be difficult, especially when they have so many other things they would rather be doing. Making it fun can go a long way toward helping your child remember. Let him choose a fun and colorful toothbrush. Having a say in his tools may make it more enticing to use them. Buy child-friendly flossers and yummy tasting toothpaste. Help your child remember to brush twice a day, after breakfast and before bed, and to floss his teeth every night. Use a small timer to help him brush for an adequate amount of time. Once your child reaches eight years of age, he might be ready to take over his oral hygiene. Check with him often, though, to ensure that it's really happening.
Your child's diet also plays a role in making his first cavity his last. Limit sugary beverages and snacks and fill his plate with a variety of foods from each food group. This ensures adequate vitamin and mineral intake. Calcium, found in dairy foods, is especially important because it plays a major role in healthy, strong teeth.
And don't forget to see the dentist regularly to make sure your child's teeth stay strong for a lifetime.