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9 Tips to Prevent Childhood Tooth Decay

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Does my child need eyeglasses?

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Your Child’s Dental Health Timeline

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How important is fluoride for my child’s teeth?

For children of all ages, fluoride is important to strengthen tooth enamel, which helps prevent against tooth decay.

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Product Update: What Toothbrush and Toothpaste Should I Use

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Frequently asked questions

What does fluoride do for my child’s teeth? What is the best way to get the right levels?

Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens the enamel covering your teeth. Enamel is the white part of your teeth and the strongest material in the human body. Each day, the enamel goes through a process of demineralization, as acid-creating bacteria eat away at the surface of the teeth and fluoride helps rebuild the tooth’s protective mineral layer.

Tap water and tooth paste may serve as sources of fluoride for children to facilitate remineralization. In addition, we recommend fluoride treatments to help strengthen the enamel of both primary and permanent teeth. Our dentists will evaluate your child and may recommend fluoride varnish during a hygiene visit to coat your child’s teeth with a dose of concentrated fluoride. The purpose of this fluoride application is to help protect and re-mineralize areas of a tooth that may be at risk of developing decay. 

Learn more about the importance of fluoride for preventing tooth decay

What foods cause cavities?

Foods high in sugars and starches feed the plaque that can cause tooth decay. Sticky candies like lollipops, caramels and jelly beans are particularly harmful, but cookies, chips and other starches can be equally harmful because they break down into simple sugars. Carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks and fruit juice contain lots of sugar and acids that can wear away tooth enamel.

Also, note, fruit and other foods can be healthy to eat, but also contains large amounts of natural sugar which can lead to dental cavities. Encourage your child to brush or wash their mouth out with water after consuming any of these foods.

Learn more about how to prevent cavities

How do I prevent tooth decay?

Tooth decay can be prevented with a combination of healthy diet, proper daily teeth cleaning and regular dental hygiene visits. Establish a relationship with a dentist around your child’s first birthday, so the dentist can monitor your child’s dental health and help you prevent tooth decay. At home, be sure your child brushes after breakfast and before bedtime every day for at least two minutes. Limit your child’s intake of sugary food and drinks, and starchy, refined carbohydrates.

Flossing is important when adjacent teeth are in contact. Bring your child to the dentist office for regular dental check-ups for fluoride treatments and dental sealants as an extra layer of protection.

Get more tips on how to prevent tooth decay

Toothpaste: When should we begin using it and how much should we use?

Toothpaste can be used from the appearance of your baby’s first tooth. Choose a toothpaste specifically formulated for the age of your child. Child appropriate dental hygiene products (toothpaste, mouth rinse) have lower fluoride levels and come in flavors that kids enjoy. At the beginning, use no more than the length of a grain of rice because babies don’t know how to expectorate on demand. You can work up to a pea-sized portion as your toddler grows.

Your child's dental health timeline

How often does my child need to see the dentist?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children should first see the dentist by one year (12 months) of age. Thereafter, children should see the dentist every six months unless otherwise directed by your dentist.

Learn more:

Regular dental cleanings and exams
Your child's dental health timeline

Are thumb-sucking and/or pacifiers harmful for a child's teeth?

They can be. Vigorous thumb-sucking, extensive pacifier use and prolonged use of baby bottles can negatively impact teeth alignment and the healthy growth of a child’s mouth. Talk to your dentist for tips on how to encourage your child to kick the sucking habit.

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