It's no secret that kids love sugary snacks. But when 40% of kids have cavities by the time they reach kindergarten, those snacks can become a problem. According to the CDC, about one in every five kids (up to 20%) between the ages of five and 11 years have at least one untreated cavity.
Cavities might not seem like a big problem at first, especially when they're affecting your child's baby teeth, but cavities can increase your child's risk of gingivitis and gum disease. What's more, children with untreated cavities in their baby teeth are more likely to develop cavities in their permanent teeth.
So what can you do to help keep your kids' teeth healthy and strong? Here are a few simple things that can help protect those chompers.
Kick sparkling water out of the house
Many people make goals to eat better in the New Year, but up to 80% of people don't keep their resolutions. Kicking sparkling water and energy drinks to the curb is one of the easiest ways you can actually keep your New Year's resolution while also protecting your child's teeth. Many parents see sparkling water as a healthy alternative to soda for their kids. They get to drink something fun and carbonated without getting an onslaught of sugar that could hurt their teeth.
Unfortunately, sparkling water isn't as health-friendly as it looks. Carbonated beverages like sparkling water and energy drinks can actually change the acidity of your mouth as you drink them, which wears away at your enamel over time. Enamel is the protective coating on your teeth that helps keep cavities at bay. That said, if you're looking to give your kids a special beverage now and then, it's better to stick to fruit juice.
Get similar toothbrushes
Many parents immediately go for kids' toothbrushes that have their favorite characters on them to try and motivate their kids to brush their teeth. While this is great for smaller kids, it's actually a good idea to choose toothbrushes that look similar to your own grown-up toothbrush as your child gets older. Because kids want to be like their parents, a toothbrush that looks like mommy's or daddy's can make them feel more grown-up while they brush their teeth. And what's more motivational than doing what the big kids do?
Sign up for a toothbrush subscription
According to the American Dental Association, it's recommended to swap out your toothbrush about once every three to four months. If your family prefers electric toothbrushes, it can be a bit of a hassle finding new toothbrush heads. Fortunately, there are 28 million small businesses operating in the U.S., and among them are toothbrush subscription services. Some services, like Quip, send new toothbrush heads and batteries for your electric brushes. Other subscription boxes include Oral-B, Burst, and Spotlight.
Eat more apples and celery
It turns out that an apple a day doesn't just keep the doctor away, but the dentist away, too. If you're looking to add more fruits and veggies to your child's snack list, consider adding apples and celery. Apples act as a natural sponge, gently scrubbing away bacteria and other food particles from your child's teeth. The skin of the apple along with the strings on celery sticks serve as natural dental floss, helping to get rid of plaque from between your child's teeth.
You may not be able to keep your kids from eating candy now and then, but you can do your best to protect their dental health. By following some of the tips above, you can help to keep your child's teeth healthy and strong.