Tips on Preventing Cavities

Infant Brushing TeethCavities can become problematic for some children at a very young age. Cavities in children are truly a growing problem. As many as 28 percent of children ages 2 to 5 have cavities in their baby teeth, and children as young as 10 months old are getting multiple cavities in their baby teeth. In 2001, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sponsored screening of 3rd grade children attending 26 New Hampshire public schools and found that 52% had tooth decay, or dental caries, and about 22% had untreated cavities.

It appears that there may be some genetic susceptibility, but there are things that you can do to prevent cavities. Tooth decay generally starts as a dark discoloration on the tooth, which can progress to holes, particularly in the rear teeth. After tooth decay has happened, parents and dentists are then faced with the difficult dilemma of fixing the teeth,  which can be traumatic for the child and usually requires general anesthesia for infants. Some of the suggestions below may help to prevent this from happening.

  • Mom and Daughter Brushing TeethBegin addressing oral hygiene as soon as teeth appear. In an infant, this means using something as simple as a washcloth to gently wipe the teeth after feedings.
  • In older children (at least a year) begin using the fluoride-free, training toothpastes and an infant brush. Brushing should be done at least twice per day. Try to make it fun by singing a favorite song during the brushing so that the child begins to have a pleasant association with brushing.
  • Bottle-feeding can increase the possibility of cavities.  This is particularly true if the child is allowed to have a bottle with sugary liquids, such as juice, for extended periods of time. Juices should be used very sparingly and should always
    be watered down by at least 50%. If the baby requires a bottle to go to bed, water should be used instead of milk or juice. Saliva decreases during the night and reduces the ability to wash the teeth, resulting in a build up of acid.
  • Some nutrients may be helpful for cases where tooth decay has already begun.
    Talk to your health care provider about possible suggestions. Supporting the
    body’s immune system and making sure that proper nutrients are available are
    very important. Homeopathy can also help to support the body’s inherent healing processes. A great option is to use Xylitol, several studies have shown cavity prevention by utilizing this natural sweetener. The best results were from using chewing gum that was 100% Xylitol. Xylitol is one of the components of Colic Care that helps to give it a great taste.

I hope this article helps.  If you have any questions, comments or concerns regarding tooth decay or infant oral hygiene, please feel free to state them below in the comments section or you can just Ask Dr. Tara.

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