Preventive Step 1: Good Home Care
- Supervise you child’s brushing and flossing, A 1996 survey showed that one-third of parents allow their children to brush and floss unsupervised.
- The best times to brush are after breakfast and before bed.
- The best toothbrushes have soft, round-ended and polished-bristles that clean while being gentle on the gums.
- Select a fluoride toothpaste approved by the American Dental Association.
- Encourage your child to floss at least once a day.
- Supervise your child’s flossing until age 10.
- Snack in moderation, no more that two times a day. Snacks should contribute to the overall nutrition and health of the child. Cheese, vegetables and yogurt are all nutritious snacks.
Preventive Step 2: Fluorides
- Fluoride not only helps prevent tooth decay, but can also cure cavities in their early stages. A healed cavity is stronger that the original surface.
- Water fluoridation is still the No. 1 way to prevent tooth decay. However, over 40% of children do not have access to fluoridated water.
- If a child does not have access to adequately fluoridated water, a pediatric dentist can advise parents about other sources of fluoride supplements, fluoride treatments, fluoridated toothpaste, and fluoride mouth rinses.
- A pea-sized amount of toothpaste on the brush is plenty for fluoride protection. Children should spit out, not swallow, the toothpaste after brushing
Preventive Step 3: Sealants
- Most cavities occur in places that sealants could have protected. Four out of five cavities in children under age 12 occur on the biting surfaces of the back teeth.
- Children with just a single application of sealants on their back teeth had 50% less tooth decay and tooth restorations after 15 years that children with sealants.
- A 1995 ADA survey showed that sealants cost about less that half of what a filling costs; a good buy in view of the valuable decay protection it provides.
- The teeth most at risk of decay and therefore most in need of sealants are the six-year and twelve-year molars.
Preventive Step 4: Mouth Protectors in Sports
- More than 200,000 injuries are prevented each year by wearing mouth protectors while participating in contact sports such as football, baseball, basketball, soccer, or hockey.
Preventive Step 5: Regular Dental Visits
- Teeth cleanings remove plaque build-up on the teeth. Plaque irritates the gums and causes decay.
- It is essential to get an on-going assessment of changes in a child’s oral health by a pediatric dentist. For example, a child may need additional fluoride, dietary changes, sealants, or preventive orthodontics for ideal dental health.