Properly cleaning a child’s teeth can be incredibly difficult when they are young. However, proper cleaning is essential for their health and the prevention of tooth decay.
There are many ways to prevent tooth decay in children. These include dietary changes, dental care routines, and the types of dental care tools used. Be sure to follow these steps, so you can set your child up for a lifetime of clean, healthy teeth.
What Is Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay is the breakdown of tooth enamel on the outside of each tooth. When this enamel decays, it leads to holes in the teeth, referred to as cavities.
This enamel is important in preserving the strength of each tooth and ensuring that all the teeth can do their job of properly chewing food. Because of this, when a tooth begins to decay, it can become painful or make it difficult to eat.
What Causes Childhood Tooth Decay?
There are many possible causes of tooth decay. These causes often work together to lead to the presence of a cavity. The largest cause of tooth decay is the presence of bacteria in the mouth.
When a child eats sugary or starchy foods, those carbohydrates linger in the mouth and stay on the teeth. The typical bacteria that reside in the mouth turn these foods into acids, which combine with saliva and bacteria to cling onto the teeth. This combination of bacteria, saliva, and acidic food remnants is called plaque.
The acidic substance in the plaque gradually eats away at the tooth enamel if not properly removed.
Risk factors for accumulating plaque that leads to tooth decay are:
- High carbohydrate intake
- Lack of proper daily dental care
- Lack of sufficient saliva flow
- High bacteria levels in the mouth
It is important to reduce these risk factors to protect your child from the painful and damaging effects of tooth decay.
How Do I Prevent or Halt Childhood Tooth Decay?
Cleaning a child’s teeth is different at each stage of their life. Due to major developmental changes in a few short years, the composition of your child’s mouth changes almost weekly until they have all their adult teeth.
It is important to know the proper oral hygiene for each stage of their development. Here are some tips for making sure your child stays safe and healthy:
Even when your child may only have a few teeth in his or her mouth, be sure to brush properly. The teeth aren’t the only places where bacteria or food particles could be hiding. Be sure to brush the gums and tongue as well. Twice a day cleaning is a proper amount to maintain oral hygiene and to prevent tooth decay.
Brushing can occur as soon as teeth begin to appear, but flossing should be saved until your child turns two years old.
As we discussed previously, carbohydrates like sugary and starchy foods turn acidic in the mouth and lead to plaque without proper cleaning. Keep your child’s intake of sticky and sugary snacks to a minimum, and make sure your child properly cleans their teeth afterward to prevent plaque build-up.
Keep Things Sanitary
An increase in bacteria can also lead to tooth decay. Make sure your child isn’t sharing germs with other children or adults. Eating utensils, bottles, and pacifiers should be properly sanitised and never shared.
Visit the Dentist
Plaque tends to build up even with the best oral hygiene routine. That is why it is so important to get your child’s teeth cleaned professionally by a dental hygienist every six months.
Keep Your Child Safe from Tooth Decay
Saving yourself and your child the trouble of a childhood cavity is easier than you may anticipate. Small adjustments to your everyday eating and cleaning routine can make a huge difference in your child’s oral hygiene.