Getting children to take care of their teeth properly is a constant battle. You tell your child to brush their teeth. You may even watch to ensure that they brush for a full two minutes. For some kids, that is enough, but for others, the cavities keep coming. It is enough to make any parent want to pull out their hair.
Are Some People Really More Prone to Cavities Than Others?
Yes, some dental patients are just more likely to get cavities, even if they brush well two or three times a day.
What Characteristics Make My Child More Prone to Cavities?
There are three main factors that make a child more prone to cavities, and all three are the fault of the parents — sort of. It's all about genetics:
Shape of teeth. While all teeth are similar in shape and structure, some people just naturally have deeper grooves in their teeth than others. Plaque can hide in these grooves and cause cavities.
Tooth enamel. Genetics determines what your tooth enamel is like as well. Thin enamel provides less protection against cavities.
Saliva. One of the functions of saliva is to help remineralize your teeth, which fights cavities. People with less natural saliva in their mouth are more prone to cavities.
In short, both genetics and poor dental hygiene determine if your child gets a cavity.
What More Can We Do to Fight Cavities?
There are many things you can teach your child to do to help them fight cavities, including the following:
Brush more often. If you have a twice-daily brushing routine with your child, try brushing a third time, maybe right after school. Be vigilant and see if the extra effort makes a difference at the next cleaning.
Learn to floss. Flossing is tricky, and — let's face it — even adults do not floss every single time, even if they tell the dentist that they do. Take the time to teach your child to floss — and floss with them as well.
Use mouthwash. Generally, young children don't use mouthwash to avoid accidental swallowing. Look into a specially-made mouthwash for children in a fun flavor like bubblegum or strawberry. Show your child how to swish it around and spit it out.
Apply a fluoride coating. Your dental office can apply a fluoride coating to your child's teeth to help protect those deep grooves. The coating prevents plaque from getting in there and forming cavities.
Try detection tabs. If you aren't sure how well your child is brushing, you can try detection tabs. These small tabs are chewed immediately after brushing. Any area of the teeth — front, back, and chewing surfaces — that was not thoroughly brushed will change color, usually to red. It will give your child a better understanding of how and where to brush. Simply brush again to remove the red dye.
As with anything else, parents need to model proper oral hygiene for their child.
What Is One Way to Fight Cavities That No One Will Tell You?
A surprisingly simple way to ramp up your fight against cavities is to schedule your child's cleanings more often. While it is recommended that you visit the dentist for cleanings and an oral exam twice a year, there is nothing to limit you or your child to just two cleanings. Try scheduling quarterly cleanings and see if that helps your cavity-prone child.
While your insurance may not cover the extra services, talk to the front desk about a reduced rate on the extra cleanings. You only need to schedule with the hygienist. You do not need to see the dentist during the extra appointments.
Cavities never stop attacking teeth, so you need to keep fighting. Try all of the above methods until you find what works for your child.
Contact a clinic that offers dental services near you for more information.