kid dental visit

Raising a Cavity-Free Child

May 11, 2022

Kevin L. Patterson, D.D.S., Dental Institute

I encourage all parents to make it their goal to raise a cavity-free child. I’m a general dentist with 35 years of experience and a parent. My wife and I raised two sons, who are now ages 27 and 30. Each son has had only a single cavity in their entire life. Sports drinks associated with their high school sports are my best guess as to the cause. The goal was no cavities–we were close.

Many of the dental problems faced by adults originate from childhood tooth decay. Fillings that were used to treat childhood cavities can fail later in life, leading to the need for crowns and root canals. The good news is that dental decay is largely preventable. It is a matter of dietary choices, good oral hygiene, and preventive dentistry, such as cleaning, sealants, and fluoride treatments.

Raising children with healthy teeth and good dental habits is a gift that will spare them much expense and trouble as adults. Start by finding a practice you trust and make it your dental home. Be sure to discuss with the dentist additional ways to prevent tooth decay.

Other tips for preventing dental decay: 

  • Encourage children to brush their teeth at least twice a day for two minutes at a time, since the fluoride in toothpaste takes time to penetrate your teeth. 
  • Assist young children with brushing. When they start brushing on their own, check them nightly to make sure they did a thorough job. 
  • Don’t give candy as a reward for good behavior, consider alternatives such as stickers or trading cards. 
  • Allow only sugarless gum. 
  • Daily flossing should start when they have two teeth that touch. Children will need assistance. The goal is that as they grow older, they don’t ever remember not flossing. 
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