How to Prevent Tooth Decay in Young Children

How to Prevent Tooth Decay in Young Children

Just because your child still has his or her primary teeth doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be concerned about tooth decay. Approximately 42% of children ages 2 to 11, and 28% of those aged 2 to 5, develop a cavity in their primary teeth.

It’s important to help your children practice good dental hygiene and prevent tooth decay.

Nix the Bedtime Bottle

One of the major causes of tooth decay in toddlers is going to bed with a bottle. Don’t let your child have milk or juice close to bedtime. If he or she must have a drink right before going to bed, offer a glass of water only. Try to avoid sippy cups, as they can increase the chances of tooth decay and encourage your child to drink milk or water quickly rather than sipping for extended amounts of time.

Limit Sugary Sweets

With the holidays right around the corner, your kids may think you’re the Grinch for putting limits on how much candy they can eat. It’s hard to avoid sweets entirely at this time of year, but be firm in setting limits. Try to avoid letting your children eat candy right before bed, and always be sure that they practice good brushing habits: they should brush with a soft-bristled brush at least twice a day and as soon as possible after eating sweets. Once your child is 2 years old or can spit on his or her own, start using a fluoride toothpaste.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Making sure that your children eat a healthy, balanced diet is good not only for their overall health, but also for dental health specifically. Cheese and yogurt, for example, make tasty and healthy snacks—a great alternative to cookies and candy. They also strengthen teeth by providing calcium while simultaneously clearing the mouth of cavity-causing sugars and plaque.

It can be tempting to think that because your children’s baby teeth will eventually fall out, concerns about tooth decay aren’t quite as important. However, tooth decay in children is a real health concern, and cavities that develop in primary teeth need the same treatment as permanent teeth. Additionally, teaching your children proper dental hygiene early on sets them up for a lifetime of good dental health.