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West Des Moines , IA 50266-6716
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Happy New Year!

A good New Year’s Resolution: Get fewer cavities!

A better New Year’s Resolution: Tweak your habits and get fewer cavities!

“Getting” fewer cavities is passive.  But did you know that, especially for children, getting cavities is due to multiple factors that are under your control:

  • Inadequate oral hygiene. An adult brushing for 20 seconds is approximately 349.2% more effective than a four-year-old brushing on their own for 5 minutes (in my opinion, not a scientific figure).  Although allowing a child to brush their own teeth allows the parent to focus on something else, it is not effective. 
    • I recommend helping your child brush their teeth until they are at least six-years-old with fluoride toothpaste. Flossing in between teeth will help get rid of the bacteria in the areas where the toothbrush can’t reach.  Not sure how much toothpaste to use or which toothbrush is best?  Check out http://www.dmpdc.com/back-to-basics/
  • Sugars in liquid form. Many toddlers and young children are given “juice” daily.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) both recommend no more than 4-6 ounces of 100% juice per day and it is NOT recommended for any child under age 1. Four ounces isn’t very much – that’s only 1/2 cup!  Try putting it in a measuring cup to see for yourself.
    • If you choose to give your child juice to drink, do it out of an open cup. This will help them drink it quickly and allow it to clear from their mouth faster.  Many parents consider many drinks “juice” which are not made of juice.  CapriSun, SunnyD, juice boxes, Powerade, etc. are not juice and should not be given to children.  They can get cavities quickly when drinking these on a regular basis, even if watered down.  If at all possible, juice should be eliminated from a child’s diet, especially if they are at high risk for cavities.  If a child is thirsty, they should be given water to drink.  If they use a sippy cup, only water should be in it.  That way, you don’t have to worry about refrigeration or the beverage causing decay.  Win, win!

      Dr. Diana’s water bottle! Don’t forget to make sure to set a good example by drinking water and staying hydrated.

  • Frequent snacking on sticky carbohydrates. Crackers, chips, and other dried/processed snacks are VERY likely to cause decay because they stay on the teeth much longer than other foods.  The bacteria that cause decay eat what we eat, so if we avoid starchy sugary foods, they don’t have access to the foods they need to cause cavities. 
    • I recommend avoiding “vending machine foods” – anything that is found in a vending machine is likely to cause decay. Think about it…chips, crackers, pretzels, fruit snacks, granola bars, candy, etc.  They all are sugary, starchy and bad for teeth!  Instead think of fresh items like crunchy vegetables (carrots, celery, cucumber, broccoli), dairy products (cheese, yogurt), crunchy fruits (apples, pears), meat or nuts.  Leftovers make the best snack! 
    • Watch out for slow snackers! Kids, if given the choice, will eat a little bit all day long.  If you have 15 chips to eat – eat them all at once.  This is much better for teeth than eating one at a time all day.  It takes the mouth 20 minutes to adjust back to normal after eating.  If you eat all day, the mouth can’t recover and makes the environment perfect for forming decay.

Check out this snack guide from “Dentist Dad,” Dr. Roger Lucas:

You have the power to prevent cavities!  You don’t need a superhero cape to help your child be happy and healthy.  If your family shops for healthy snacks and thinks ahead, it is much easier when life gets crazy.  Although it is easier for toddlers to eat crackers and puffs, trying new foods and eating healthy fruits and vegetables will keep their bodies growing and their teeth strong! 

So there you have it.  The key to success is simple: Drink water, brush teeth, eat healthy.  Try some of our tips and see how you and your children can have fewer cavities. 

Cheers to a new year and healthy habits!