Tooth decay isn't just a problem for adults; it's also a concern for children. With over a quarter of children under five showing evidence of tooth decay, it's more important than ever to have regular a dental check up
develop a regular dental health routine for your child to help to prevent future problems with their teeth. If you'd like to know more about how to prevent tooth decay in children, read on.
The Causes of Tooth Decay
Put simply, tooth decay occurs as acid-producing bacteria in the mouth start to eat away at the teeth, causing cavities or dental caries. This build up of bacteria arises as a result of inadequate dental care, such as not brushing your child's teeth often enough. One common reason for tooth decay in toddlers is allowing your child to go to bed with a bottle of milk or juice. The drink will sit in your toddler's mouth while they sleep, creating an ideal breeding ground for the bacteria to thrive. Allowing your child to develop unhealthy eating habits, such as eating lots of sugary drinks and snacks, is also a major cause of tooth decay in toddlers and young children.
How to Prevent Tooth Decay
- As soon as your baby's teeth come through, it's important to establish a regular teeth-cleaning routine. Brush and floss your child's teeth every day with a soft bristled toothbrush, preferably after breakfast and before they go to bed. Don't use a toothpaste containing fluoride until your child is at least 2 years old and able to spit it out.
- If your child does need a drink in the evening after you've brushed their teeth, only give them water, not milk or juice.
- When you give your children milk or juice during the day, encourage them to drink it quickly to limit the amount of time their teeth are exposed to the sugars in the drink. Whenever possible just give them water to drink. Teaching your child to use a cup as soon as they’re able to will also help to limit the teeth's exposure to sugar.
- Avoid giving your child too many sugary foods, including dried fruits and health bars, as these still contain a lot of sugar. Also limit the amount of citrus fruit as the acids in them can weaken the enamel of the teeth. When you give your child sweets, brush their teeth afterwards.
- It's also important to introduce your child to a dentist before their first birthday. Your dentist will be able to give you more advice on how to look after their teeth, and regular visits will also allow them to monitor your child's teeth as they grow.
Dental Care for Older Children
Children usually start to lose their baby teeth at 6 years old. It then becomes more important than ever to take care of them as they won't be replaced. As adult teeth come through, ensure that your child keeps up a regular tooth brushing routine, taking particular care around loose teeth and the areas that are sensitive. Don't try to pull loose teeth out, but let them come out naturally. Once again, regular visits to the dentist are a must. During these visits the dentist will check for problems and may offer preventative treatments such as dental sealants. Tooth decay is a major problem among children in Ireland today so make sure you’re doing your best to protect your child from falling victim to the nasty effects that this condition brings with it.