Here's an article I found on nickjr.com about how to prevent those pesky things!!!! My kids always say they have to brush away the "sugar bugs" to prevent them :)
- No Bedtime Bottles or Juice Drinks
Limit the amount of sugary juices your child drinks from his sippy cup throughout the day. In addition to being high in sugar, fruit juices can also be highly acidic, so it's a good idea to dilute your child's juice for her. And never let your child fall asleep with a bottle of milk or juice at bedtime. The acid from milk and juice sitting in your child's mouth can eat away at the enamel, damaging not only his baby teeth, but potentially his adult teeth as well.
- Limit Sugary Sweets
Some sweets are better than others, but only in moderation. "I'm a big advocate of plain chocolate as a special treat," says Dr. Hanna, "Saliva washes away much of the chocolate, so it's much less likely to cause decay than a cookie or a cracker that gets mashed into the teeth, where it can remain for a long time."
- Ask About Tooth Sealants
Ask your dentist about tooth sealants that can protect grooved and pitted surfaces of teeth--such as the chewing surfaces of molars, where most cavities in children are found. These clear or shaded coatings are beneficial if your child has deeply grooved molars that trap food particles.
- A Note on Sealants
Dentists can seal teeth of kids as young as 2 1/2, but generally this procedure is reserved for older kids because the patient needs to sit still and keep her mouth open while the sealant material sets up. Teeth with pre-existing cavities or decay should never have sealant applied to them.
The Fluoride Factor
QUESTION: We have fluoride in our water, so does my child need a fluoride rinse, too? What about fluoride drops and tablets?
- The fluoride added to municipal water sources works internally (or systemically) to protect and strengthen developing teeth while the fluoride in toothpastes and rinses work topically to help protect teeth that have already erupted. So, fluoridated rinses and toothpastes are an extra step in avoiding tooth decay.
- Pediatric dentist A. Jeffrey Wood, the chair of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry at the University of the Pacific, in San Francisco, believes that both topical and systemic fluoride are essential to the health of your child's teeth. Dr. Wood believes fluoride rinses are especially beneficial when used right before bedtime.
- If your water isn't fluoridated, or if your family drinks only well or bottled water, your dentist can prescribe fluoride tablets, lozenges, or drops. Don't buy fluoride over the counter though, because fluoride dosage needs to be tailored to each child's needs .
- Fluoride rinses should not be used by children under the age of 4. Be sure to supervise your child while he is rinsing, to ensure that he is spitting out all of the product and not swallowing it. Ingesting fluoride rinse can lead to spots on permanent teeth.
Cavities in Baby Teeth
QUESTION: Is it necessary to fill cavities in my 3-year-old's baby teeth?
- Dr. Grossman's answer is yes. "If it's a primary front tooth, your child will have that tooth for another three or four years. And a primary molar might remain for another six or seven years, so the decay should be taken care of before it gets worse." If the decay is not stopped, it might necessitate removing the tooth prematurely. "And taking out a tooth can lead to spacing problems that will need to be monitored closely as the secondary teeth come in," says Dr. Grossman.
- "If left untreated, bacteria in one cavity can spread, seeding your child's mouth with bacteria that may infect permanent teeth as they erupt through the gums," adds Dr. Hanna.
- If your preschooler does have a cavity that needs filling, talk with your dentist to help her determine if your child can sit still for the procedure. She might suggest waiting until your child is a little older before filling the cavity.
What other thing do you do to prevent cavities?