Unfortunately, tooth decay remains the most common chronic disease in kids aged 6 to 19; even though many parents would argue that it might be selective hearing. AND while tooth decay continues to be a big issue for kids, life during our on-going pandemic is causing more kids to miss their routine check-ups and teeth cleanings. About 40% of parents surveyed in a recent poll were choosing to skip or avoid dental care for their kids.
And that’s bad news, because kids don’t need any more help getting tooth decay – 50% of kids between 6 and 11 already have cavities. Delaying preventative dental care – such as routine cleanings + exams – only increases their risk for tooth decay. And that’s a problem.
Fortunately, cavities don’t need to be a part of your kids’ lives. Tooth decay can be prevented. It just takes a little year-round work between you, your kids and your friendly Bellevue dental team. Here are some tips to help you and your kids fight tooth decay and keep those cavities away.
1. Beware of Foods that Damage Kids’ Teeth – Certain foods will promote tooth decay. When possible, try to limit the consumption of these foods, as well as consider how much time goes by between when these foods are consumed and tooth brushings. Some foods on this list include sugary foods, such as granola bars to cereals. Sticky foods like gummy vitamins can linger between your kids teeth and promote tooth decay. Starchy foods, such as French fries, Gold Fish and other crackers, will leave sugar converting particles on the teeth. And acidic foods and drinks, such as citrus juices or tomatoes, can wear away the enamel of of kids’ teeth.
2. Make Time for Oral Hygiene at Home – Days get hectic in our multi-tasking lives (for adults and kids!), but try and schedule a tiny bit of time for your family’s teeth. It’s like making an appointment to improve everyone’s oral health. Regularly brush & floss (sometimes with supervision for younger kids) twice a day! The combination of brushing and flossing will work wonders to keep teeth clean and free of the debris that promotes tooth decay – if you need some flossing tips for the family-> Check these out! And brushing works best when it’s done correctly – 2 minutes, with a soft brush, brushing at a 45 degree angle toward the gum line, using short, circular strokes – check here to see if your kids are brushing their teeth correctly!
3. Add Foods that Fight Tooth Decay – Be mindful to include some foods into your family’s diet that can help prevent tooth decay. Foods like apples and yogurt can actually neutralize cavity causing acids. Crunchy fruits and veggies like celery, cucumbers and apples have a high water content. They help flush away the sugars that accumulate within the mouth. Also, foods that are rich in calcium and phosphates, such as milk, nuts and pumpkin seeds, will help to strengthen the tooth’s enamel.
4. Get Some Help from Sealants – These thin coatings are painted on to the chewing surfaces of your kids’ teeth to fill in any pits. The molar areas of the teeth is where food residue gets trapped and can accumulate to promote tooth decay/cavities. The good news? School-age children (between 6-11) who have sealants are nearly 3 times less likely to get molar cavities compared to kids without sealants.
5. Don’t Skip Exams & Teeth Cleanings – Routine dental exams are just as important for toddlers, tweens and teens as they are for adults. In fact, they might be even more important, because your kids are still growing every day! Routine check-ups help us make sure that your kids’ teeth are coming along nicely, and they also help us prevent any dental issues from becoming too serious down the road. And teeth cleanings are the best way to keep plaque from building up on your kids’ teeth and forming tartar – a hard by-product of plaque build up that adheres to teeth. Even daily brushing and flossing can’t take off tartar; only teeth cleanings by your friendly hygienist can scrub it off your kids’ teeth. If your kids are overdue for a dental exam and cleaning, please call us to schedule an appointment at (425) 957-4700 or make a request online!
It’s not easy to keep your kids’ teeth free from tooth decay. Basically, it’s a full-time, year-round, ‘all hands on deck’ job. But that’s why we’re here to help. Whether it’s providing some dental tips, a little oral health education or some preventative dental care, we’re here to help give your family friendly, pain-free dental care, in a calming environment.
P.S. COVID SAFETY. Please don’t let a pandemic get in the way of your kids’ preventative dental care. Despite the fears about COVID transmission, our infection control safety measures are proving to be effective for patients & staff. So, you can book your kids’ cleanings + check-ups with confidence!