According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood infectious disease in the United States. It is five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever. Untreated tooth decay often results in persistent pain, inability to eat comfortably or chew well, embarrassment at discolored and damaged teeth, and distraction from playing and learning.
The good news is tooth decay is highly preventable! Here are some tips to help your child avoid the pain and cost of cavities.
Supervise brushing and flossing
Brush your child’s teeth twice a day until your child has the skill to handle the toothbrush alone. Then continue to closely watch to make sure the child is doing a thorough job and using only a small amount of toothpaste. Help your child floss once a day.
Use our brush chart
Help your child develop a lifelong habit of brushing twice a day with our Captain Supertooth brush chart. Reward a full month of daily brushing with a (sugar-free!) treat.
Use an app or timer
Kids should brush their teeth twice a day for two minutes... and there's an app for that! Try out the Toothsavers app or the Chompers podcast. A two-minute hourglass timer works well, too. They'll enjoy watching the sand drift through the hourglass, and they'll be surprised how quickly they finish brushing.
Avoid transferring oral bacteria
Cavity-causing bacteria can actually be transferred between people. Encourage your child not to eat or drink after others. Also, parents should never clean pacifiers with their mouths because this can transfer cavity-causing bacteria to babies.
Limit acid attack
Carbonated beverages (even the diet variety), fruit juice and highly acidic food can cause tooth enamel to wear away and teeth can become sensitive and discolored. Limit your child’s consumption of these types of food and drink. After consumption, have your child rinse his or her mouth with water to help stop the acid’s affect on teeth.
Take your child to the dentist
Seeing the dentist every six months for a cleaning and checkup helps avoid decay or stop it early. SoonerCare and most dental benefit plans cover this with no out of pocket expense.
Ask your dentist about sealants
Sealants work by filling in the crevasses on the chewing surfaces of the teeth, helping to keep out food particles and prevent cavities.
Visit our Resources for Parents page for links to a wide variety of interactive and educational resources that help make oral health care fun!