3 Ways to Improve the Oral Health of Your Cavity-Prone Child
If your child has developed frequent cavities in their primary or baby teeth, then you may wonder just what you can do to help keep their adult teeth cavity free when they emerge.
Your child will have their permanent teeth for the rest of their life. Once they need a cavity filling in permanent tooth, that filling will need to be monitored and occasionally replaced for the rest of their life. If a cavity filling fails and is not replaced quickly, it can lead to the need for a root canal.
You can help your child avoid extensive dental work later in life by helping them keep their permanent teeth cavity-free now.
While brushing and flossing daily are the two most important steps to preventing cavities in all teeth, read on to learn three additional ways you can help your cavity-prone child avoid cavity development in their emerging adult teeth.
1. Have Dental Sealants Applied to Their Permanent Molars
Molars are prone to cavity development due to their uneven surfaces covered in indentations called pits and fissures. Food particles can cling to these indentations and stick around even after molars are brushed, which can lead to cavity development.
Help prevent cavities in your child’s permanent molars by having dental sealants applied to them as soon as they emerge. Dental sealants are coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of molars that, once dry, form a thin film that protects this surface of the tooth from cavity-causing bacteria. These sealants reduce cavity formation on molars by an average of almost 80 percent.
A child’s dental insurance policy will often cover the application of dental sealants to their molars, and these sealants typically protect teeth for many years after application.
2. Have Your Child Chew Sugar-free Gum After School Lunches
While you can send your child to school with a toothbrush and toothpaste and instruct them to brush their teeth after lunch, you cannot ensure they brush their teeth when you are not there. Your child may feel embarrassed brushing their teeth in front of their classmates who skip brushing or just do not understand the importance of brushing after this meal.
If you suspect your child is not brushing after lunch, then include a stick of sugar-free gum that has earned the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval in their lunch box or bag.
Chewing sugar-free gum after a meal stimulates saliva flow in the mouth. This additional saliva helps neutralize acids in the mouth that contribute to cavity formation and coats teeth in calcium that helps restore tooth enamel.
3. Increase Your Child’s Oral Exposure to Fluoride
When fluoride combines with the calcium and phosphorus in tooth enamel, it strengthens enamel to make it more resistant to cavity formation. While you likely have your child brushing with a traditional fluoride toothpaste when they brush, ask your dentist if they recommend adding additional fluoride-containing products or treatments to your child’s oral hygiene routine.
One option your dentist has is to provide your child with in-office fluoride treatments. Studies have shown that children who received in-office fluoride treatments for at least one year are 43 percent less likely to develop cavities than children who do not obtain these treatments.
To administer this treatment, your dentist will simply coat your child’s teeth with a high-concentration fluoride-filled solution or apply fluoride solution-filled trays to your child’s teeth, then allow the solution to remain on your child’s teeth for a few minutes.
Your child’s dentist may also recommend additional over-the-counter fluoride products your child can use at home, such as fluoride mouth rinse, or recommend prescription-strength fluoride products, such as toothpaste that contains extra fluoride.
While most tap water in the United States contains fluoride, if your child drinks little water or drinks only bottled water, your dentist may also recommend that your child take a daily fluoride supplement.
If your child is especially cavity-prone – and they are already brushing and flossing properly on a regular basis – then try one or more of the above tips to help prevent cavities in their permanent teeth. Contact the staff at Vincent J. Picone D.D.S. to schedule your child’s next dental checkup today.