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While the percentage of young people with dental cavities in the United States dropped from 50% in 2012 to just over 43% in 2016, dental cavities are still the most common chronic disease among today’s youth in ages 6 to 19. Helping families understand the importance of proper oral hygiene from babies first tooth up into adulthood may keep your family from having to experience emergency dental work, and out-of-pocket expenses at the dentist.
How Can I Help My Family Prevent Cavities?
Prevention is always the name of the game when it comes to tooth decay. Avoiding cavities in the first place will save you money, reduce dental anxiety and prevent more serious dental problems in the future. But how can you make sure your family is getting the care they need, and taking the right steps at home?
Don’t skip dental exams
The most important thing you can do to help keep your families teeth in great shape is to have routine visits to the dentist at least twice a year for everyone in your family over the age of one. Routine visits to the dentist for exams and regular cleanings will be less costly to families in the long run because preventative visits help to ensure a lifetime of good oral hygiene. When your dentist is able to treat minor problems such as tooth decay before it turns into a cavity will not only save you time and money, but will also help to decrease any dental anxiety your little one may develop from having to have extensive dental work done to fix multiple cavities that went left untreated.
Shop smart for a tooth-healthy diet
Fueling your family with a diet full of fruits, vegetables and low-starch foods will help to promote healthy teeth with less tooth decay. Because sugar found in foods is the main culprit behind plaque causing bacteria that leads to tooth decay, maintaining a balanced diet is a healthy and easy way to give your families teeth an extra boost. Keep your kids (and yourself) hydrated with plenty of water will also help to rinse bacteria from the teeth. A good rule of thumb to follow is that if the food is healthy for the rest of your body, it’s probably healthy for your mouth and teeth too.
Brush with your kids (engage them on their health)
Brushing your teeth after every meal, and at least twice a day, is still the best way to prevent tooth decay in both children and adults. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on your teeth after you eat or drink foods containing sugars. That same bacteria then produces harmful acids that attack the tooth enamel causing it to wear down and creates cavities and tooth decay.
Teach your kids the importance of brushing their teeth properly with these helpful tips:
- Always use a soft-bristled toothbrush regardless of age
- Brush for at least two minutes – make it a fun two minutes by playing a song to brush along to!
- Use a fluoride toothpaste for children under the age of 6 and supervise your children to ensure they do not swallow any toothpaste.
- Help your kids floss their teeth once a day
- Supervising children while brushing will ensure they are brushing for long enough to reach all surfaces of their teeth so their entire mouth is cleaned properly.
Take advantage of the knowledge your dentist and hygienists have while at your dental exams. While you’re at the dentist, ask specific questions about areas for improvement on not only your own teeth, but your children’s teeth as well. Your dentist will be able to tell you where the areas are your child brushes well, and the areas that seem to get forgotten while brushing.
We’re here to help you make the most of those twice-yearly appointments! Ask Dr. Baudean how your family is doing with their oral hygiene routines at your next exam!