Further Reading

What can parents do to prevent cavities?

by Lyndsey M. Carlson, RPA-C

Dental decay is a very common problem among toddlers. By the age of five, 50% of children will have developed one or more cavities. For this reason, it is extremely important to begin taking care of your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth erupts.

From infancy until three years of age, a smear of fluoridated toothpaste (the size of a grain of rice) should be used twice daily to brush teeth. Once your child is three years old, a pea-sized amount of fluoride-containing toothpaste should be used. Children should be encouraged to spit out excess toothpaste instead of swallowing it to prevent excess fluoride intake. Most children need help with oral hygiene up until 7 or 8 years of age. Ensure your child is cleaning the front and back surface of each tooth, not just the ones they can see. Avoiding sticky, sugar-containing foods and drinks, such as syrups, caramels, candies, and gum, will also help prevent dental decay in children. Avoid giving young children prolonged access to juice in the bottle as this will increase their risk for cavities.

Parents are encouraged to establish a dentist around their child’s first birthday for regular visits, routine cleaning, and care. Regular dental visits will ensure that your children’s teeth and gums are healthy and developing normally. The dentist may also provide fluoride varnishes, rinses, or chewable fluoride supplements to certain patients to obtain optimal dental health. If you believe your child is experiencing dental disease, contact his or her pediatrician or dentist for further evaluation.