Cavities are a very common problem among children. However, they are preventable. Our dentists, Dr. Clint Rau and Dr. Thao T. Nguyen, can provide you with childhood cavity prevention tips in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. If you would like more information or if you want to schedule your child’s appointment you can call Young Smiles at 920-652-1100.
Why does my child have cavities?
The answer to this question is very complex, but there are some simple ways to help understand your situation. During a cavity risk assessment we ask the following questions:
Does your child take any medications?
Medications can dramatically affect the type of bacteria that are in your child’s mouth. Some common medications that affect baby teeth are frequent antibiotics, ADHD medications, asthma medications, anti-seizure medications, etc. If your child takes medications, please discuss the medication with Dr. Rau or Dr . Nguyen.
How frequently does your child drink something other than water during the day?
High frequency of eating or drinking is a very common cause of childhood tooth decay. The American Dental Association uses the phrase “Sip all day and get decay.” If you choose to give your child juice or soda, the recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatricians is only one per day. This should be limited to 4-6 ounces per day for children under 8 years old. For children 8 years old or older, only 6-8 ounces is the recommendation. If you choose to give your child juice, have them drink it with a meal. When the meal is over, dispose of any remaining juice. Your child should be allowed to have plain water between meals. Milk with meals is a great idea.
Sugar-free drinks and flavored water contain high amounts of acid to increase the flavor. This acid also removes the mineral from your child’s teeth. Again, plain water is the recommendation.
Is your child allowed to eat at any time during the day?
“Grazing” is also a very common cause of cavities. Having more than 5-6 exposures to food each day significantly increases the risk of decay. Even frequent consumption of healthy foods can increase this risk. Children should have regular set mealtimes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Morning and afternoon snacks are normal for children and may help with growth. A simple rule is to have 2-3 hour breaks between meals with only plain water during those breaks.
How often do you floss your child’s teeth?
Flossing once per day is very important. Cavities often form between the teeth where food and bacteria get caught. Children are developing small motor skills. We recommend that the parents assist in flossing until the child can write well. This is a good indicator of the appropriate manual dexterity needed to floss. Usually, this is at about 7-9 years of age.
Do you help your child brush twice per day?
Brushing helps to reduce the amount of bacteria and food debris in the mouth. By reducing the quantity of food and bacteria, the risk of cavities is less. For very young children, using a washcloth or gauze to clean the mouth is important as children at this age do not clean food from their mouths well.
Children need to have help until between the ages of 7-9. They do not have the manual dexterity to do it until then. A good rule of thumb to use is their ability to write well. If you can read their writing well, they can brush on their own with some supervision.
Does your child use fluoride toothpaste? or fluoride mouth rinse daily?
Fluoride will reduce your risk of cavities by remineralizing your child’s teeth. Fluoride does not allow bacteria to grow well or perform their normal functions. Proper use of fluoride is safe and effective, but it needs to be used appropriately. Fluoride is a topical medication. If you rinse it off, you have rinsed off the product you need to help you.