Tips for Preventing Tooth Decay in Children

a child holding a toothbrush and a macro tooth model to signify prevention of tooth decay

It is important to care for your children’s teeth from a young age. We want to instil good oral health habits that they can carry through to adulthood. Your child must understand the importance of caring for their teeth. Children are especially prone to tooth decay because their enamel is softer than an adult’s. It is important to care for that enamel, protecting it against decay.

At our Sydney CBD clinic, we love treating our littlest of patients. In this article, we discuss tips for preventing tooth decay in children.

What Is Tooth Decay?

Enamel is a thin protective layer that covers your teeth. As this enamel is especially soft in baby teeth, it is especially subject to decay. Left untreated, tooth decay can turn into little holes in the teeth called cavities. It is important to prevent this from occurring as it can lead to more serious oral health issues. 

Consuming a diet that is high in sugar can promote tooth decay. It is important to help your child maintain a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle to aid in prevention. This should include good oral health care habits such as regular brushing and visits to your dentist. 

Tooth decay is common in children. I’m sure most of us can remember going to the dentist to have a cavity filled. Some signs to look out for are:

  • Your child experiencing tooth pain or discomfort
  • A thin white substance along your child’s gum line
  • Brown spots on their teeth
  • Gums that are red and swollen 

If the decay is more advanced, you may notice:

  • Blackened holes in their teeth
  • Broken teeth
  • Small lumps on their gums
  • Swelling around their gums 

If you notice any of these signs in your child, it’s important to schedule a visit to your dentist as soon as possible.

Preventing Tooth Decay

Prevention is key! Let’s discuss a few top tips for preventing tooth decay in children.

Diet

Diet is important for anyone’s oral health, but especially for children. Limit their intake of sugary food and drink. Give them plain water or full-fat milk to drink. Juice and soft drinks are not recommended for children. 

Try not to give them too many lollies or sweets. Foods such as fruit (only 2 serves a day), vegetables, nuts and cheese are great for kid’s teeth. Never dip your child’s dummy into sugary substances such as honey or jam- it is not necessary. 

If your child requires medicine, try a sugar-free option. Limiting sugar anywhere you can, will help. Kids do not need to eat processed, sugary foods. A healthy, natural diet is best. We understand this can be difficult, kids love lollies, but try to limit the amount they consume. Try to avoid introducing them to these unhealthy foods for as long as possible.

Regular Cleaning

Teach your kids to brush their teeth every morning and night from a young age. 

  • Start to clean your baby’s teeth as soon as their first tooth comes through. You can use a wet flannel or a small baby toothbrush with water. 
  • From about 18 months to 6 years, get a children’s toothpaste and use a small amount to clean their teeth. 
  • From about 6 years of age, your child can start using standard fluoride toothpaste to clean their teeth. Get them a fun, colourful kids’ toothbrush to encourage them. 
  • Make sure you supervise the cleaning process. Make sure they are brushing for a standard two minutes and reaching all of their teeth as well as their tongue. 

If you introduce these habits to your child from a young age, they will hopefully carry them through to adulthood. It should also help keep cavities to a minimum. 

Dental Visits

It is recommended that you start taking your child to the dentist from as early as 2 years old. Your specialised children’s dentist will be able to spot any signs of decay. They will also be able to offer professional cleaning and fluoride strengthening treatments for your kids. 

It is important to take your child to the dentist every 6 to 9 months or as otherwise recommended by your dentist. Going to the dentist can be a scary idea for many children, so make it fun. Make sure you choose a reliable children’s dentist with whom your child feels comfortable and relaxed. They must learn the importance of these regular dental trips and know that they’re nothing to be concerned about. 

Be a Good Role Model

Kids learn from watching and copying what their parents do. So be a good role model when it comes to oral health care. Let them see you brushing your teeth every morning and night. Make it into a fun game, with a song or dance. Eat a healthy diet alongside your kids and teach them about healthy food. If you do this your child can grow up to do the same. 

Wrapping Up

Tooth decay is more common in children. We must teach our children good oral health care habits. Prevention is always more desirable than having to deal with the consequences of tooth decay. Feed them a healthy diet and teach them good habits in taking care of their teeth. Take them to see your trusted family dentist regularly. Be sure to reflect all of this behaviour in your own actions. 

If you’d like to schedule a visit to see one of our children’s dentists at Dental On York then give us a call today. We are happy to answer any questions you may have about children’s dentistry. 

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