Tips for Preventing Cavities in Children

family dentist in Newberg

As a family dentist in Newberg, Dr. McLeod and the rest of the Newberg Family Dental team often treat kids of all ages dealing with cavities, which is also referred to as tooth decay or dental caries. In fact, according to The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, about 42% of children ages two to 11 have dental caries affecting primary teeth. Many parents are surprised to learn that even brushing and flossing every day doesn’t always prevent cavities. Here’s what you need to know about preventing cavities in children.

What is Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay is when tooth enamel – aka the hard outer surface of your tooth – breaks down or is damaged. It begins when the bacteria that naturally forms in your mouth feeds on the sugars and starches you consume every day, creating acid. This combination of bacteria, acid, food and saliva in your mouth forms plaque, a yellowish biofilm that sticks to your teeth and contains enamel-eroding acid. Over time, these acids eat away at your tooth enamel, causing tooth decay and cavities.

All children are at risk for cavities, but some factors may increase that risk, including higher than average levels of bacteria in your child’s mouth, too many carbohydrates, sugars and starches in your child’s diet, little to no oral hygiene and low saliva production.

Signs of Cavities in Kids

While the symptoms of tooth decay and cavities vary with each child, one of the most common is sensitivity or pain in the area around the tooth or when consuming certain foods, such as sweets and hot or cold drinks. Other signs include white spots or a light brown color on the teeth. A decaying tooth can also turn a darker shade of brown to black as the cavity goes deeper.

It’s also important to note that cavities don’t always cause symptoms. Sometimes children don’t know they have one until their dentist finds it.

Tips for Cavity Prevention

Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to help prevent cavities and tooth decay in children.
Teach your child routine brushing and flossing habits early. All children with teeth should brush twice a day and floss once, the latter preferably before bedtime. For children ages three to six years old, use only a small (roughly the size of a pea) amount of toothpaste. All children under eight years should be supervised while brushing. After age two, flossing once a day removes any left-behind food that can cause cavities. If your child can’t floss themselves, you can floss for them.
Schedule regular visits with Newberg Family Dental. Dr. McLeod recommends that your child comes in twice a year for dental check-ups. This will let you know if they have any problems with their teeth.
• Model healthy food choices. Teach your child how to limit or avoid cavity-causing foods while highlighting foods that lower their risk. Calcium-rich foods, foods high in vitamin C and protein and bacteria-fighting foods can all help prevent cavities. Some examples are carrots, apples, strawberries, hard-boiled eggs and cheese.

Join the No Cavity Club

For local children, Newberg Family Dental is proud to offer our No Cavity Club. Joining is easy. All your child needs to do to join is brush and floss their teeth every day, come in for appointments with Dr. McLeod and have no cavities.

When you qualify, Dr. McLeod and her team will take your photo and place it on the office No Cavity Club tree. Every three months, each member of the club will have their names placed in a drawing for fantastic prizes.

Ready to schedule your child’s appointment with Dr. McLeod? Contact Newberg Family Dental today!

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