Preventing cavities starts at an early age

Preventing cavities starts at an early age


The American Dental Association (ADA) sponsors National Children's Dental Health Month to raise awareness about the importance of oral health. Tooth decay is the number one chronic infectious disease among children in the U.S. It is five times more common than asthma. Yet decay is nearly 100% preventable. Today’s Family asked Dr. Trista Onesti, a pediatric dentist in Lyndhurst, to provide us with some of the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry for cavity prevention. 

Developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits helps children to get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a first dentist visit by age one. Routine dental visits should be every six months with a comprehensive exam, cleaning, fluoride application, and x-rays when determined to be necessary by the dentist. 

Two is the magic number for keeping your child’s teeth in tip-top shape. Time your child’s brushing by playing a song that is two minutes long: 60 seconds for the top teeth and 60 seconds for the bottom teeth. Just remember, until your child develops adequate hand control for good penmanship (usually age 7–8), they do not have the manual dexterity to brush correctly. An adult must also brush for the child until this hand control develops. Make sure you help to put the right amount of fluoridated toothpaste. A child under 3 gets a barely visible smear, while a child over 3 gets a small pea size amount. 

Flossing is an essential part of the oral health care routine to clean spots where the toothbrush cannot reach. As soon as two teeth are touching it is recommended that an adult floss the teeth. For some children, the first time teeth contact is as early as age 2 or 3, but for most children it is at age 4 or 5. Children should floss their own teeth after age 9. It is very common to see cavities between the teeth in children who do not floss. 

A proper amount of fluoride in drinking water from infancy through old age helps prevent tooth decay. If you choose to have your child drink bottled water instead of tap water, they may not be receiving a sufficient amount of fluoride. Some bottled waters contain fluoride, and some do not. If the label does not state that fluoride is added, you must call the manufacturer to determine the fluoride content. 

Drinking too much juice promotes the development of cavities. It is recommended that children drink from a cup by their first birthday. A sippy cup is only meant to serve as a transitional tool for kids to adjust from the bottle to cup. Only water should be put into sippy cups, except during mealtime. By filling a sippy cup with juice, or even milk, and allowing a child to drink from it throughout the day, the child’s teeth are bathed in cavity causing sugars. 

Dr. Trista believes that discussing these topics with her patients and their parents helps to create a lifetime of healthy smiles. She is currently welcoming new patients. To discuss your child with Dr. Trista, please give her office a call at 216-839-9378.