Cavities require three factors:
- Agent: Bacteria +
- Host: Tooth +
- Substrate: Sugar
To minimize your child’s cavity risk, each of the above factors must be addressed.
Brushing Teeth Twice Daily
Brushing teeth is a physical removal of plaque (full of bacteria) and food (sugar) from the teeth.
It is especially important that your child goes to sleep with clean teeth. While awake, saliva acts as a buffer and helps slow the bacterial action. When asleep, there is less saliva flow and therefore less protection for your loved one’s teeth.
Assist Your Child with Daily Flossing
Baby teeth are most susceptible to cavities between the teeth, areas a toothbrush cannot reach. Usually by 4 years old, the gaps between your child’s teeth (particularly the molars) will often close. When this happens we recommend daily flossing be part of your child’s daily oral hygiene practices. Flossing works to physically remove plaque (bacteria) and food (sugar), while also promoting healthy gums.
Reducing Frequent Snacking and Sugar Intake
Bacteria like to live in an acidic environment filled with sugar. Frequent snacking creates the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive.
Chew Sugarless Gum Between Meals
The act of chewing increases saliva flow that helps make your child’s mouth hostile to bacteria. Artificial sweetener (Xylitol) also reduces the number of cavity-causing bacteria (Streptococcus mutans) present in the plaque that does form on your child’s teeth.
Ensure Regular Dental Check-Ups
Your child should have regular dental check-ups every six months to ensure that cavities are caught early, to monitor your child’s dental development, and to reinforce good oral hygiene practices. Children who are cavity-prone and adolescents undergoing orthodontic treatment will benefit from more frequent check-ups.
Regular check-ups include a professional pediatric dental cleaning and a topical fluoride application to help keep your child’s teeth clean and cavity-free.
Molars have deep grooves in them in which plaque, bacteria and food like to hide. This is especially true for permanent molars. At Woodbridge Kids Dentistry, we offer sealants, protective coatings placed on molars that seal off the grooves, to prevent cavities from forming.
Sealing molars is analogous to weather-sealing wood decks. Sealants can last for several years but do wear down over time and need to be touched up.
Sealants are recommended on permanent molars (6-year molars, 12-year molars, wisdom teeth and premolars). In some cases, sealants may also be advisable on primary teeth. Please feel free to ask us if your child is a candidate for sealants.