Contagious Cavities

Were you told that bad teeth run in the family? Actually, the reason that family members tend to have cavities is that the bacteria that causes cavities are communicable. The bacteria in the mouth thrive on sugar and produce acids that are harmful to teeth. Usually the bacterium that causes tooth decay is passed between family members through sharing utensils or foods. Because tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among children, it is extremely important to be ever vigilant in protecting your family from infection. To help you do so, we’re happy to give you some ideas from our doctors.

Be An Example

Make sure you brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes and floss. Children often learn by watching their parents and studying their behavior. This means it’s extremely important to care for your own teeth to help your children learn these habits themselves. You should also consider watching your children brush their teeth to educate and supervise them. Before you child starts brushing, make sure they wash their hands thoroughly. Teach them to clean the entire surface of their teeth with a child’s toothbrush. Also, make sure your little one doesn’t brush too hard. Many children struggle with brushing and flossing on their own until they are at least six years old. Please be patient while they learn. Your child should start flossing their teeth once their teeth start to come together and the sides begin to touch. Your child may do better with flossing sticks until they are old enough to use string floss on by themselves.

Some Prevention

Fluoride toothpaste is very important because it can remineralize enamel, which fights off cavities. Studies have also shown that fluoride makes it more difficult for bacteria to stick to your smile. Start using it early in your child’s life to provide an extra layer of defense to their developing teeth. It is also important to brush your baby’s tooth twice a day with an infant toothbrush or a washcloth. If you like, you can put a dot of toothpaste on their gums, but do not use an amount any larger than a grain of rice. When they are two years old, you may increase the amount to a pea-sized dab. Please teach your children to avoid swallowing toothpaste and please read the toothpaste label. Some toothpaste is not recommended for children under a certain age.

Visit The Dentist Often

Fluoride is useful for preventing cavities, but it will be ineffective for an existing cavity. It is important to visit a dentist regularly to catch and stop cavities before they are able to spread. It is important for everyone to get a professional cleaning and exam twice a year. If you have a problem like gum disease, you may need to visit a dentist more often. Toddlers are more prone to cavities because children their protective layer hasn’t fully developed yet. Your dentist may also recommend other measures such as fluoride treatments and sealants.

Try More Water

Sodas and juices contain artificial sugars, which lets bacteria gather in the mouth. To avoid sugar and decay, we recommend using water to keep your family hydrated. Also, drinking water during meals will rinse away food particles and bacteria—and improve digestion.

To stop tooth decay in a baby, avoid baby juice and don’t give your little one a bottle to hold in their mouth when they sleep. Talk to your doctor about giving your baby water when they are under a year old and don’t give water to an infant under six months old.

Eat Well

Pick foods that are nutritious if you are interested in improving your oral health. Give your family a well-balanced diet that includes several vegetables. A multivitamin can also supplement your diet. Talk to your doctor about the dosages that are best for each of your family members.

If you are interested in keeping your family’s smile health, please visit your local Smiles Dental office. Feel free to contact us if you are interested in learning more.