Tips for Preventing Early Childhood Tooth Decay

Dentist Blog

Your young child's teeth are vital to many aspects of their growth and development, including speech and the eventual placement of their secondary, permanent teeth. Taking excellent care of your child's primary teeth from the start will ensure the best chances of avoiding early childhood caries, and keep those pearly whites healthy and clean.

Let's look at a few tips for preventing early childhood tooth decay:

Parental Dental Health

Your child does not have any bacteria in their mouth that causes tooth decay when they are born. It is contact with the parents and caregivers that is responsible for passing the bacteria to the child's mouth, through shared food tasting, kissing on the mouth, or the cleaning of a dummy with the mother's own saliva.

While you should avoid these actions whenever possible, it is also important to ensure that your teeth and gums are healthy, bacteria and decay free zones. Have regular check ups, and ask your dentist for strategies to continue your own dental health in the future.

A Nutritious Diet

The importance of a nutritious diet for prevention of tooth decay in young children starts while they're still in the womb. As the minerals necessary for good dental calcification are provided by the mother in utero, it is important that the mother maintains a good diet full of calcium rich-foods and beverages to help provide an adequate supply of minerals.

Once your child is eating solid foods and a wider range of drinks, it is vital for good dental health that you ensure healthy eating habits are instigated from the very beginning. Things to avoid in order to prevent early childhood tooth decay include:

  • Acidic or sugary foods and drinks
  • Eating too frequently throughout the day
  • Foods that tend to stick to the teeth and gums for a long time
  • Prolonged suckling beyond nutritional requirements
  • Filling your child's bottle with anything but breast milk, formula or water
  • Dipping your child's dummy in any sort of sweetener to coax them into sucking

Concentrate on providing your child with tooth-friendly foods that are nutritious, low in sugar and encourage the production of saliva. Fruits, vegetables and cheeses are excellent options.

Let Saliva Do It's Job

Saliva does a marvellous job to prevent tooth decay, if given half a chance. By washing away acids and regularly replacing tooth minerals, your child's saliva is their best defence against early tooth decay.

Ensure that you give your child's saliva the best chance to do it's job by allowing periods of food and drink free time throughout the day. Stick to meal times, and restrict the consumption of fluids other than water to set times.

Brush and Check Teeth Regularly

As soon as the first teeth pop through the gums at around six months old, brush your child's teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head twice daily. Encourage good brushing habits by making it a regular part of the daily routine, and if your child is hesitant, give them the toothbrush to play with and explore outside of set brushing times.

Checking your child's teeth regularly for early warning signs of tooth decay is very important. Lift your child's top lip and look at their gums;if you can see little white spots on the gumline, it may indicate early tooth decay. In such circumstances, make an appointment with your paediatric dentist immediately.

Regular Dental Check-Ups

From your child's first birthday onwards, it is important to start regular visits to your paediatric or family dentist. To familiarise your child with the process, the first few examinations can be conducted while sitting on mum or dad's lap. Most dentists are quite skilled at making it a fun experience for children, and have a few clever strategies for taking a peep at a reluctant child's teeth. Speak with your dentist or dental assistant prior to booking to discuss your child's dental needs.

Give your child the best chance at preventing early tooth decay by maintaining a healthy family diet, allowing time for saliva to clean and re-mineralise teeth, regularly brushing and checking for early signs of tooth decay, and establishing a regular dental check up schedule from an early age.

For more information, contact a surgery like Rutherford Dental.


23 September 2014

Quitting smoking at last

I have tried to quit smoking three times over the last few years, but it never really stuck. My mother just got diagnosed with lung cancer, and it's given me the wakeup call that I have been waiting for. I have quit smoking again, but this time I spoke to my doctor before I started and it's made a lot of difference. He organised some nicotine replacement products and counselling to help me quit for good this time. I have started this blog to let people know how much easier it is to quit when your doctor is helping you.