March 22, 2016
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How to Prevent Cavities for Children

Even though National Children’s Dental Health Month has drawn to a close, the Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) wants to continue the momentum and remind parents of the importance of cavity prevention for their children. The American Dental Association (ADA) has recommended for decades that patients use fluoride toothpaste to prevent cavities. Approximately 25 percent of children have had cavities before entering kindergarten, so prevention at an early age is extremely important. 

Further research comes from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where the CDC indicates the United States is experiencing the first increase in 40 years in the number of preschoolers who have cavities. While there can be many causes of cavities in young children, two of the main culprits are sugary drinks and candy that sticks easily to the teeth, such as Sour Patch candies. Raising awareness is crucial since very few Americans know that tooth decay is the most common chronic disease affecting kids. 

Dr. Bruce Terry, an endodontist from Wayne, tells children and parents that sugar is not the only factor in tooth decay. Brushing away the sticky foods helps starve the bacteria and deprive the opportunity for cavities to form.

"We all know how hard it is to prohibit our children from eating sticky sugary foods, but we can make sure that they brush more often," Dr. Terry said. "Don't make the food the enemy; encourage good oral hygiene habits."

To help prevent tooth decay, the ADA recommends brushing the teeth of children ages 2-6 with a pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste twice a day. It is also best to monitor your child’s sugar intake, including limiting the consumption of sugary drinks such as soda. Another proactive step is insuring your child has regular dental visits, with their first one being shortly after their first teeth come in around age one. The key factor to your child’s oral health is taking these preventative measures so that any problems can be avoided before they start.

About the Pennsylvania Dental Association
Founded in 1868, the Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) is comprised of approximately 6,000 member dentists. It is a constituency of the American Dental Association (ADA), the largest and oldest national dental society in the world. PDA’s mission is to improve the public health, promote the art and science of dentistry and represent the interests of its member dentists and their patients. PDA is the voice of dentistry in Pennsylvania. Learn more about PDA.