19 Steps to Prevent Your Child From Getting Their First Cavity

Ensuring your child’s teeth and oral health are well taken care of is essential as a parent, especially as your child’s teeth are developing. According to WeschesterGov.com, more than 80% of children will have at least one cavity before they finish high school. If you are a parent concerned about your child’s oral health, there is preventative care that can help reduce the risk of developing cavities and other gum or oral abnormalities. The more comfortable you become with dental hygiene and oral health, the easier it will be to instill healthy habits in your own children.

1. Start Early

Even when your children are unable to brush their own teeth as they come in for the first time, it’s important to assist as a parent. Using water and a soft-bristled toothbrush is the best way to begin brushing your child’s teeth when they are unable to do so on their own and without your assistance. Keep an eye on your child’s tooth development to take note of any abnormalities that require addressing before they are able to brush their teeth on their own.

2. Education Is Key

Educating your child at a young age about the importance of dental and oral health can go a long way, especially as they grow into adolescents and young adults. Instilling the importance of oral health and general oral preventative care for the purposes of strong and healthy teeth is key to helping your child understand just how essential tooth brushing can be each day. Stressing the importance of strong and healthy teeth is also key to helping your child view the process of cleaning their teeth as empowering and taking control of their health.

3. Maintain a Positive Attitude

A positive attitude is major when it comes to instilling positive and healthy habits in children, regardless of their age. If you are negative about brushing your teeth or taking care of your own oral health, your child is likely to follow suit. Having a positive attitude when it comes to brushing your teeth, flossing, and even going to a dentist regularly can help your child to feel more comfortable about oral health overall.

4. Brush Your Teeth With Your Child

Once your child is able to brush their own teeth, you can encourage them by brushing your teeth alongside them. Brushing your teeth together is not only a way to instill healthy dental habits in your child, but it also provides an opportunity to bond. While brushing your teeth together, demonstrate the best ways to move the toothbrush while also showcasing patience as you brush for at least two minutes. This will help your child to become comfortable with standing still and allowing time to pass as he or she brushes their teeth.

5. Play Music

Another way to make the prospect of cleaning one’s teeth a bit more fun and exciting is to introduce music to the mix. Playing music for your child while he or she brushes their teeth is a way for them to feel more engaged with the activity. There are some toothbrushes on the market that are designed for children. In some cases, the toothbrushes play music for a set amount of time (typically up to 2 minutes). These toothbrushes may also be ideal for a child who enjoys listening to music while brushing their teeth but requires a reminder to continuously brush for at least two minutes.

6. Schedule Regular Dental Appointments

Introducing your child to the dentist at a young age is highly recommended. The younger your child is when they begin visiting a dentist, the more likely they are to feel comfortable with doing so, even as they get older. Introducing your child to a dentist regularly is a way to ensure their oral health is taken care of and that you are teaching them to be comfortable with preventative care in the future. Schedule a regular dental appointment for your children at least once every six months once they have all of their baby teeth in place.

7. Utilize a Reward System

Similar to creating a chore chart for your child, it is also possible to develop a reward system to encourage healthy habits and dental care in the home. Creating a reward system that acknowledges your child’s healthy dental habits can help them to remain encouraged and motivated as they learn to take care of themselves.

8. Increase Your Child’s Water Intake

One of the best ways to reduce your child’s risk of developing a cavity is to increase their water intake. Rather than offering a sugary and starchy drink, encourage your child to drink water. Provide them with water during mealtimes and even with snacks to help them become accustomed to consuming water instead of sugary sodas and juice.

9. Provide Your Child With Healthy Snacks

Sugar is the main culprit of cavities, especially in children of all ages. If you want to prevent your child from developing cavities, steer clear of snacks that are packed with sugars, preservatives, and other potentially harmful ingredients. Rather than reaching for a box of processed snacks, opt for healthy vegetables that are lower in carbohydrates and sugars. Eliminating as many processed and refined sugars from your child’s diet as possible is highly recommended to minimize the risk of developing cavities.

10. Monitor Your Child’s Tooth-Brushing Habits

Even if your child claims that he or she has brushed their teeth, it’s important to check that they are doing so and not putting off the chore. When children are first learning responsibility and self-accountability, they may have a difficult time sticking to commitments, finding it easier to play a video game or return to their toys. Monitoring your child’s tooth-brushing habits during their formative years is highly advisable. This will allow you to oversee their true intentions when it comes to brushing their teeth and whether or not they are committed to doing so even without your prompting. Once your child is capable of brushing their teeth autonomously and without prompting, they are more likely to be trusted to continue with preventative care as they grow older.

11. Show Your Child How to Floss

Flossing your teeth is just as important as brushing your teeth. Children can also reap the benefits of flossing, especially children who enjoy sugary snacks and sticky candies. Flossing is essential to minimize the buildup of food and bacteria between the teeth and throughout the mouth. Showing your child how to floss as soon as they are old enough to hold a toothbrush is imperative. The sooner your child becomes comfortable with the action of flossing, the sooner they will have the ability to floss on their own.

When your child is first starting off with flossing, they may require your basic instruction. Demonstrating how to floss by flossing your own teeth can help to show your child how to get started. You may need to place the floss in between your child’s teeth to help them become familiar with the feeling. Once your child feels comfortable with the floss moving in between their teeth, they can then begin to place and move the floss on their own.

12. Make Flossing a Fun Activity

Another way to help your child remain engaged when practicing preventative care is to make flossing a fun activity. Play music while flossing with your child or be sure to floss together while getting ready in the morning or when going to bed at night. When your child associates flossing with a positive memory or activity, they are less likely to view flossing as a chore. By incorporating music, play, and bonding time into flossing and brushing teeth, you can help your child view taking care of their teeth as a positive and necessary task.

13. Use a Timer

If you do not have a musical toothbrush for your child or if they do not want a musical toothbrush, consider using a timer while they are brushing and flossing. Setting a timer each time your child begins brushing their teeth and flossing will help them to keep track of how long they have to go. A timer will also help your child to become comfortable with the duration of time necessary for them to brush their teeth after each meal or at least twice a day. At a minimum, both children and adults should brush their teeth twice a day for two minutes at a time, totaling four minutes.

14. Discourage Unnecessary Snacking and Grazing

Instilling good dental habits and preventing a cavity in your child requires more than simply showing them how to brush their teeth. Educating your child about sugary and sticky snacks and the importance of brushing or flossing in between meals is essential to minimize their risk. One way to reduce the risk of your child developing a cavity is to discourage unnecessary grazing and snacking, especially if your child has not established healthy dental habits yet.

Allowing your child to graze and snack on sugary candies or treats throughout the day is the fastest way to contribute to the buildup of cavities and other dental issues in the mouth. Instead of allowing your child to graze, serve nutritious and filling meals during breakfast, lunch, and dinner time. When your child does want a snack, provide them with healthy alternatives, such as vegetables, nuts, and other whole foods that are not packed with refined sugars and high amounts of carbohydrates (which turn into sugar in the body).

15. Find the Right Toothbrush for Your Child

Finding a toothbrush that is ideal for your child is extremely important, regardless of your child’s age. Ensuring you purchase a toothbrush that is not only the right size, but the right softness is key. Speak to your child’s dentist about preventative care options as well as the type of toothbrush that is most suitable for your child. In most instances, a soft toothbrush is likely to be recommended for children whose teeth are still developing and forming. However, if your child has a special tooth or oral condition, it’s best to first speak directly to their care provider and dentist to determine the best type of toothbrush for their dental needs.

16. Consider an Electric Toothbrush

If you are searching for an alternative to a traditional toothbrush, you can also consider the option of investing in an electric toothbrush once your child reaches the age of 3 or 4 (depending on where they are in their development). An electric toothbrush can assist your child in ensuring that they are moving the brush properly throughout their mouth. This is extremely helpful for children whose motor coordination is still in development. An electric toothbrush can also ensure that adequate pressure is being applied to the teeth without pressing too hard.

17. Use a Fluoride Mouthwash

Once your child is capable of following instructions, you can also introduce a fluoride-based mouthwash to their dental routine. If your child is capable of holding liquid and spitting it out, they can handle mouthwash to help eliminate additional bacteria in the mouth. In some cases, it’s also possible to opt for a mouthwash that has been designed with children in mind. These mouthwashes may have a more fruity or bubblegum flavor as opposed to a traditional mint or spearmint mouthwash that is intended for adult use.

18. Eat a Healthy and Balanced Diet

One of the most important elements of healthy teeth and gums includes the diet we consume each day. If your child typically consumes sugary foods and drinks, they are more likely to experience the growth of bacteria in the mouth. This will ultimately result in the decay of teeth and cavities. Instead of providing your child with sugary sodas, juice, and cookies, opt for alternative sugars and sugar-free snacks. Stick to healthy and whole foods such as lean meats, nuts, and green and leafy vegetables. Introduce vegetables to your children as snacks to encourage them to eat as healthily as possible at a young age. The more familiar they are with healthy foods when they are younger, the less likely they are to make poor dietary choices as they grow into adults.

19. Discuss Particular Concerns

If you have noticed a change in your child’s teeth or oral health, speak directly to their dentist regarding preventative care measures that should be taken. Your child’s dentist should inform you of the best preventative care measures to take in order to minimize or eliminate the risk of your child developing a cavity. If you have concerns about particular issues, they should address them head-on to provide you with solutions as well as peace of mind.

Helping to prevent your child from developing a cavity is possible by instilling healthy dental habits and working alongside your child’s dentist. With the right preventative care solutions and healthy habits at home, you can significantly reduce your child’s risk of developing a cavity by the age of 18.

Are you seeking preventative care solutions for your child and their oral health? If so, Smilez Pediatric Dental Group can help you and your loved ones. Visit our website to learn more about the services and solutions we provide today.