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Preventing Tooth Decay in Young Children

Tooth decay can be a problem no matter how old you are. There are many causes that can be linked to tooth decay, even in small children. It’s important to protect your child from tooth decay as best as you can to prevent more serious oral diseases from arising later on in life.

By visiting a pediatric dentist and developing good practices at home, you can help prevent tooth decay. In order to provide the best preventative care for your child, you need to know what can cause tooth decay. In this blog post, Brushin’ on Belmont will go over ways to prevent tooth decay as well as common oral diseases to look out for.

Regular Cleaning

A simple way to prevent tooth decay with your child is to make sure they develop a routine for good oral hygiene at an early age. Twice daily brushing and flossing help get rid of any sugars or starches that can cause tooth enamel to break down, leading to tooth decay.

It is important to see a pediatric dentist at an early age to address any concerns with kids’ oral hygiene and any tooth decay that may have already occurred.

Protecting Your Child’s Teeth with Fluoride

You can prevent tooth decay in your children by having them use a fluoride toothpaste if they are older than age 2. If they are younger than 2, ask your pediatric dentist first. If your child is still a toddler, watch them brush their teeth, making sure they are using only a pea-sized amount and never swallowing any toothpaste. Additionally, drinking tap water that contains fluoride can help prevent tooth decay. If you are in an area where tap water does not contain fluoride, ask your dentist if your child needs fluoride supplements. If you’re looking for some trusted children’s’ toothpaste, The American Dental Association recommends Colgate for Kids toothpaste, Oraline Kids Bubble Gum Flavored Fluoride Toothpaste, or Aquafresh for Kids Toothpaste.

Watch What Your Child Eats

Sugars, starches, and acids wear away tooth enamel over time. You should limit foods that are rich in carbohydrates like cookies, candies, and other sweet treats. Additionally, sugary drinks like sodas and even fruit juices can be very acidic and be abrasive on the teeth. These types of foods leave deposits on the teeth, which in combination with plaque, leads to acids damaging the mineral structure of your child’s teeth. This erosion of the mineral structure can overtime cause microscopic cracks which can expose the nerve endings in teeth. This leads to sensitive teeth, making it painful to drink anything too hot or cold. If you have a baby or toddler, make sure sippy cups are properly washed in order to remove any sugars or food residue that may linger on them.

Try avoiding or limiting soda and energy drink consumption. Even if the drink is sugar-free, the carbonation raises the acidic levels. Additional drinks to avoid are ones that have lemon or citrus flavoring added. Even naturally flavored fruit drinks can have too much acidity in them to consume on a regular basis.

Not all foods drinks to stay away from are unhealthy, however. Veggies and fruits like tomatoes, oranges and other acidic fruits will wear down tooth enamel, especially if consumed on their own. Pair these healthy food options with a meal for a healthy diet and happier smile.

In addition to things like candy, which can have as much acidity as battery acid, also limit dried fruits. Dried fruits stick to the teeth, making the acidity and bacteria linger on the teeth long after you are done eating them. A tip for reducing enamel erosion is consuming milk or cheese after you eat. Dairy and other calcium-rich products help to neutralize the effects of acidic foods.

Sharing Saliva

Bacteria can be another cause of tooth decay. If you are sharing drinks or utensils with your young child, you could be passing this bacteria on to them. Always wash utensils or drink cups before passing them on to your child, or get them their own drink. Additionally, make sure they know not to share drinks with other children, even siblings.

Making sure that your child knows how important good oral hygiene is will help ensure they take care of their teeth when they are older. For now, while they’re still young, follow this advice on preventing tooth decay to help them establish good oral care.

Brushin’ on Belmont is a great dentist for kids that will be there for every stage of your child’s growth from pediatric dentistry to orthodontics. If you are looking for a dentist or orthodontist in the Roscoe Village, Lakeview, or Northside areas of Chicago, please contact us! We offer a wide range of services including general dentistry, sedation dentistry, and Invisalign®.