Brushing and Flossing
Brushing and flossing are essential in keeping your child’s teeth healthy and cavity-free. Begin brushing at the sign of the first baby tooth and continue helping until your child is around the age of 8 to reduce the risk of cavities. Flossing should begin around the age of 4 when the molar contacts close in, and cavities are possible between the back teeth.
Both fluoride and xylitol help reduce the risk of cavities, but for different reasons. Fluoride helps by strengthening the enamel (the outer structure of the teeth) to prevent the penetration of acids and bacteria. Xylitol helps by altering the bacteria in the mouth, changing it from the type that causes cavities to the kind that doesn’t cause cavities. Fluoride can be found in toothpaste, mouthwash and tap water in most municipalities, and xylitol can be found in mints, candies and gum.