Parents, rejoice. We’ve canvassed the experts for some proven (and sometimes sneaky) hacks to help keep smiles cavity-free.
- Keep xylitol wipes handy for late-night cleanings. If your little one requires nighttime feedings and/or medications, wipe down the teeth afterwards to reduce exposure to harmful sugar or acid overnight. Most varieties use xylitol, a safe, natural sweetener that inhibits the growth of plaque. Check that wipes are free of paraben and formaldehyde and, remember, they are an aid, and not a substitute for brushing and flossing.
- Encourage a drink of water after a sweet treat. A little H2O right after dessert helps minimize sugar-to-teeth contact and can dislodge tough food particles to help restore the mouth’s pH balance. Cleansing the palate by drinking water (and brushing, if possible) can also diminish an incessant sweet tooth.
- Speaking of pH, for a healthy mouth we want to maintain a neutral pH between 5.6 and 7.9. Once the pH hits 5.5 or lower, teeth begin to demineralize and risk cavity development. Try incorporating foods that balance the alkalinity of saliva. Some great foods on the high end of the pH spectrum include spinach, broccoli, cucumbers, onions, sweet potatoes, green beans, blueberries, mangos, avocados, and peas. Other options for picky eaters include lemons and limes, which taste acidic but, once metabolized, produce alkaline byproducts. Some foods that have a lower pH include: soda, beef, bread, artificial sweeteners, pasta, pork, and coffee.
- Before your child heads to a party and is faced with all sorts of food temptations, have him or her eat just beforehand. Offering a plate of nutritious food can help fill the stomach and make a cavity-causing cake and dessert binge less likely.
Nothing Beats Brushing and Flossing
With all the clever products and advanced science out there, good mouth wellness still comes down to the basics. But we all know kids have many things to do that are—in their minds—way more fun. If you want to take a creative approach to motivating your kids:
- Take kids with you to the store and let them have their choice of toothbrushes and toothpaste. Better yet, share the activity with them; they will likely mimic your motions and the time you spend brushing.
- Play their favorite song. Dentists recommend brushing at least twice a day for a minimum of two minutes. To motivate your child to brush for those full two minutes, play a favorite song or video that lasts at least two minutes. Playing an upbeat song can make the time fly and your child will be having fun as he or she brushes. Click here to download 7 Toothbrushing Tunes
- Download an app. Yes, there are apps for toothbrushing. There are many free and low-cost apps available that use the camera to create avatars of the users and children may be likely to watch their cartoon selves longer. Plus, they get rewarded with stickers and badges if they follow along and brush the places they might normally miss.