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Posted:
07/28/10

Tips For Preventing Childhood Cavities

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Look at any baby boomer’s smile and you’re likely to see a mouthful of metal fillings! Before the widespread use of fluoride toothpaste and other preventive tools became commonplace, children’s teeth were much more vulnerable to decay; in fact, filling cavities was a routine part of semi-annual checkups. Today’s parents have a lot more options (not to mention knowledge) on how to keep their kids’ smiles cavity-free. Here are some tips.

Tip #1: Start Prevention Early

Even as late as 20 years ago, it was not unusual for parents to give bottles of apple juice to their babies for pacification purposes. Today we know that constant saturation of teeth in sugars of any kind (even so-called “healthy” types contained in fruit juices and formulas) turns a baby’s teeth into prime targets for early decay. Does it really matter, since they’re just going to lose those teeth anyway? Yes! Kids need healthy and strong primary teeth for many years till the adult ones are ready to grow in, and since these little teeth act as “place holders,” they are extremely important.

Tip #2: Get Fluoride Treatments

Fluoride toothpaste and a fluoridated municipal water supply are certainly helpful, but they are not usually enough for total protection. In addition to eating healthy foods, cutting down on sweets consumption, and twice-daily brushing and flossing, children benefit from receiving fluoride treatments every single time they visit their children’s┬ádentist. These treatments contain much higher concentrations of the mineral and will help teeth to be stronger and more decay-resistant for a lifetime.

Tip #3: Don’t Forget Sealants

Sealants are applied to children’s molars as soon as their permanent ones start coming in: usually around age 6, and again when the second set erupts at around age 12. These thin plastic coatings help protect the enamel surfaces that are most vulnerable to decay: the grinding ones. Sealants effectively keep germs and food particles out of all the little crevices where contaminants otherwise might cause decay. This is an option that simply was not available to kids back in “the day,” and is one of the single most beneficial weapons available to modern dentistry in the battle against tooth decay.

Establishing good habits early, the use of fluoride and application of sealants do not guarantee total freedom from cavities, but they will certainly make a huge difference. Be sure to talk to your Utah children’s┬ádentist or a dentist in your area about other ways to help prevent childhood cavities.

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