Kids may not love going to the dentist (even though we think we do a pretty good job of it), so it’s even more important that you keep their visits to just routine checkups by making sure their daily routine includes preventive care to prevent cavities from forming at an early age.

What Should My Child’s Daily Dental Care Routine Be?

You should be instilling a healthy dental care routine into your child before their first tooth grows in, but some cavity prevention is even more than what you do to your teeth–it’s what you decide to eat or drink.

  • As soon as their first tooth grows in, begin brushing their teeth, tongue, and gums with a fluoride toothpaste.
  • For children younger than 3 years old, don’t overuse the toothpaste–too much can actually break down enamel. All you need is a toothpaste dot the size of a grain of rice on their brush.
  • Once your child is older than 2, you can begin flossing their teeth daily.
  • A well-balanced diet is key to preventing cavities. Diets high in sugars and acids are higher risk factors for cavities. Healthy, natural foods are better for the whole body.
  • Prevent the transfer of bacteria to your child’s mouth by not sharing eating utensils and refraining from cleaning their pacifier with saliva.
  • Try to prevent your child using a bottle at bedtime. Breast milk is natural, free, and healthy. If you decide you have to use a bottle, keep it to just water.

Symptoms of Tooth Decay in a Child

If you notice white spots on your child’s teeth, that is an early sign of tooth decay and their tooth enamel breaking down. It may be more sensitive to cold or hot temperatures around those spots, so if your child reacts to cold or hot drinks or sugary foods, it may be time to bring them in for a checkup.

Cavities often manifest themselves as light brown spots in the tooth, and as it becomes deeper it progresses to darker shades of brown to black. If your child complains about a pain in their tooth, it’s likely that a cavity is the culprit.

Treatment of Cavities for Children

There are two types of treatments for cavities, known as restorations: indirect and direct.

A direct restoration is a one-visit treatment, and involves simply taking out the decayed part of the tooth and filling it. These are usually in and out visits and are the most common for children.

Indirect restorations, or crowns, require multiple visits. These are usually reserved for patients with worse overall dental health and multiple cavities.