How to Talk to Your Child About Cavities

Jun 22, 2023 | Pediatric Dentistry

As a loving parent in Fort Collins, CO, you want your child to have the best start in life, including in regard to oral health. Since children are so prone to cavities, your Fort Collins pediatric dentist is offering some help for parents about how to talk to children about cavities.

The Problem With Discussing Cavities

Cavities are, by and large, an abstract concept as far as kids are concerned. Youngsters have a hard time grasping abstract ideas; sometimes adults do, too! But if you can take the abstract idea of cavities and bring it into the “real world,” your child will be more likely to get the idea.

Use a Model

One idea is to use a tray of ice cubes. The larger the ice cube, the easier it will be to work with, so the larger ice cube trays work best. Ask your child to imagine that each ice cube is a tooth. Now, fill a glass measuring cup with warm water (safely out of your child’s reach), and slowly pour a slim stream of water onto one ice cube. The water represents bacteria. Your child can observe how the hot water makes the ice cube melt. You can explain how this is similar to how bacteria eats away at a tooth. If you don’t like this model idea, try to come up with something similar that works with your household.

Don’t Make Them Over-Fearful

Some kids may get frightened at the idea that something they eat is going to make holes in their teeth. You don’t want to make your child hyper-aware of what they eat. Just explain that too much of anything is not good, including water. Teach moderation. A sliver of birthday cake and a scoop of ice cream is not going to make teeth rot. Instead, explain how their diet should not consist of excess sugar.

Compare Washing and Brushing

Reinforce the fact that brushing teeth is a way of washing teeth of bad bacteria that can make cavities. Explain that there are all kinds of bacteria, but some bacteria enjoy eating sugar, just like your child does. So that certain bacteria needs to be “washed” away by brushing teeth.

Finally, bring your child in for pediatric dental cleanings in Fort Collins, CO on a regular basis. We have a variety of dental tools and models to help explain cavities to your youngster. Contact us today to book your child’s next appointment.