Parents should expect their children to have all their baby teeth by age of 2, so it’s hard to believe something so new could still be vulnerable to tooth decay.
Tooth decay is permanent damage that occurs to the teeth in the form of holes or cavities. Common causes of tooth decay in all ages include a high sugar diet, frequent snacking and poor oral hygiene.
So how does this effect kids?
Proper oral hygiene habits are always a must! And lack thereof may result not only in tooth decay but other dental diseases, even in kids. A diet high in sugar feeds the bad bacteria in the mouth, allowing them to create an acid that will damage the outer enamel layer of the tooth and cause a loss of minerals.
And by snacking on these foods or drinks throughout the day, you are exposing the teeth to that acidic environment for longer periods of time, giving your child an even higher risk of decay! This includes putting your child to sleep with a bottle, having unhealthy snacks between meals, and sipping on sugary drinks throughout the day.
But my kids are always hungry between after school and dinner?
After a hard day at school, who wouldn’t be starving! Kids need snacks to stay alert and motivated until their next meal. So what can you do? Substitute!
Instead of grabbing that muesli bar, give them crackers and cheese!
Swap out the juice box for good old water!
And if that’s not enough, plain milk is always a good option.
For more information on what you can substitute your common household snacks for or just reassurance that you are on the right path- ask one of our friendly dental professionals at your next 6 monthly Active Maintenance appointment.
What about fruits and fruit juices?
Let it be known- fruits have numerous benefits for your general wellbeing. But sugar is sugar, whether it be natural or artificial, and that sugar feeds the bad bacteria in our mouth and increases the risk of tooth decay. Now that’s not to say you can’t ever have your delicious fruit! Instead, we should aim to keep our foods in their separate meal brackets i.e. breakfast, lunch and dinner, and limit snacking on fruits in between to allow our teeth to recover.
What if my child doesn’t want to brush their teeth?
I think we can all agree that every child is unique and their best form of learning will vary, so try to tailor a solution to fit your own child’s abilities and interests. Whether it be:
- Visual- creating a reward system in the form of a brushing chart.
- Auditory- an electric toothbrush with a song set as its timer or one that connects to an interactive app.
- Kinaesthetic- brushing your teeth together and making it a habit
If you’ve made an effort and are still struggling with the idea of brushing, please discuss this with your dentist/oral health therapist at your child’s next 6 monthly Active Maintenance appointment for further inspiration.
I had bad teeth as a kid, does that mean my kids will have bad teeth too?
Genetics can play a role in determining one’s general oral health, however this should not discourage you from the minimum daily oral hygiene habits. Genetics do not always have the same impact, and with the range of knowledge and technologies available today, negative outcomes can be avoided.
Is there anything else I can do to protect my child?
So say you’ve altered your child’s diet, substituted their snacks for healthier alternatives and oral hygiene habits are no longer an issue, but you want to do more?
Active maintenance! Make sure your child is booked in every 6 months with their Oral Health Therapist or Dentist for their routine exam, scale and clean, and up to date x-rays. From there, we are able to keep a close eye clinically, touch base with you and your child regarding all factors that can contribute to their risk of decay, and help in any other way possible.
For more information on how to prevent your child getting decay, click here to read our ‘Top tips to get your kids to care for their teeth’.