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Empower your kids

Good oral hygiene – fighting the return of the cavity

Cavities in young children appear to be on the rise, according to the Canadian Dental Association. But that doesn't mean we can't do something about them. Here are some ways we can stop the return of the cavity in its tracks.

Why the increase in cavities?

The spike in early childhood cavities shouldn't come as too much of a surprise since, according to a study released by Statistics Canada, young Canadians have fallen behind in their dental hygiene. The data revealed that Canadian youth were less likely to brush their teeth as much or as often as children in most other countries.

This would explain some alarming data released by Statistics Canada regarding oral health:

  • 57% of children aged 6 to 11 years have or have had a cavity
  • 59% of children aged 12 to 19 years have or have had a cavity
  • Children aged 6 to 19 years have or have had an average of 2.5 teeth affected by decay

And since good hygiene is learned behaviour, the next few stats should help explain the current situation:

  • Although cavities are mostly preventable, a whopping 96% of Canadian adults have had one or more cavities
  • 6% of Canadian adults no longer have any natural teeth
  • Of the adults who do still have teeth, 21% of them have had problems with gum and tooth health

Good oral hygiene for children

Teaching children good dental hygiene practices is key to keeping their teeth healthy and strong, so here is a primer on dental care for our little ones. And who knows – it may also help us adults clean up our act (and our teeth!)

  • Regular brushing
    • Teeth need to brushed at least once a day (ideally twice – even better is after each meal)
    • Small children need us to do it for them and older children need us to do it with them
  • Start dental care early
    • Your child's first trip to the dentist should happen within six months of their first tooth or by the time they turn one, whichever comes first
  • Regular dental visits
    • Since cavities become a danger as soon as your child develops teeth, regular visits can help you stay on top of the situation
  • Fluoride strengthens teeth
    • This natural mineral strengthens enamel, the outer layer of teeth, which helps prevent cavities. Using toothpaste fortified with fluoride and living in an area with a fluoridated water supply helps prevent tooth decay
  • Limit sugar
    • Too much sugar has been linked to cavities
    • Limit regular consumption of sugar (including maple, honey, fruit sugars)
    • Avoid putting your child to bed with a bottle or sippy cup filled with anything other than water, such as milk or fruit juice
  • Your own oral hygiene has an impact on that of your child
    • If you don't take care of your own teeth, you're less likely to take care of your child’s teeth
    • It's possible to transfer your own decay-causing mouth bacteria to your child, so you need to keep your teeth healthy
Fighting the return of the cavity
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