Tooth decay or dental caries can occur even in small children. In fact, it is more rampant in children due to faulty oral hygiene and consumption of sugary and fast foods that give rise to dental caries and cavities. Food particles stuck to your teeth cause the bacteria in the mouth to form an acid, which eventually eats away the tooth causing a hole in the tooth.
These holes are called as cavities. Tooth decay in children can cause tooth development problems, infection, discomfort and pain. Starting your child on the right path of good oral hygiene becomes paramount to prevent tooth decay. Here are some of the steps you can follow to avoid tooth decay in children.
Tips to Avoid Tooth Decay in Children
Getting the Right Tooth Brush
Go to a reputed dentist and ask him/her for a good toothbrush for your child. A soft bristled toothbrush is idea for your child’s tender gums and teeth. The brush should be changed after every 3-4 months for best results.
Follow a good Oral Hygiene Routine for Babies
Good oral hygiene starts at birth even before the young baby has sprouted his/her first tooth. A young baby should be exclusively breastfed for 6 months to prevent tooth decay. Formula milk has sugar, which can lead to dental caries. Massage the baby’s gums gently with your finger tips to promote blood circulation and keep the gums healthy and strong.
Once the baby as been weaned off the breast, the bottle should be introduced judiciously and sparingly. Letting babies lie down and fall asleep with bottles in their mouth often leads to the formation of dental caries and cavities.
Brushing and Flossing Twice Everyday
Make sure your child brushes and flosses twice every day. In the initial days, you will have to brush your child’s teeth to help or teach him/her how to do so. Gradually once the child is older, train him/her on the correct technique of brushing and flossing.
Flossing is critical to remove food particles from in between the teeth. You can also brush your own teeth twice every day. Children are wonderful imitators and will do a good job in observing and emulating your oral hygiene habits.
Give your Child Nutritious Snacks
It is very important to feed your child nutritious foods like fruits, salads and cheese all of which are very good for his/her teeth. Pack his/her Tiffin with cut apples and pears. Apples in particular stimulate the production of saliva, which not only cleans the teeth well but also strengthens the teeth.
Curb Sugary Indulgences
While it is very difficult to refuse complete access to sweets and lollipops, ensure that your child has them in strict moderation only. Offer sweets and toffees to your child only as a special treat. Eating too much of sticky toffees and sweets is one of the biggest reasons why young children get dental cavities and caries.
Regular Dental Check ups
Take your child for a regular dental check up every six months. This will help the dentist to assess the extent of tooth decay or damage to the teeth if any. Smaller cavities, which occur superficially on the surface of the teeth, can be easily rectified by chipping the tooth and infusing a permanent filling to prevent further deterioration.
In case the decay is extensive, a root canal will have to be performed in order to restore or save the tooth. In this, the entire decayed matter is removed along with the pulp and sensitive nerve endings of the tooth. The hollow part of the tooth is then filled with a permanent filling and fitted with a dental cap or crown.
Teach your Child to Spit out Toothpaste
It is very important to teach your child to spit out toothpaste and not swallow it as it reduces the damaging and corrosive effect of the fluoride on the surface of the tooth or the tooth enamel.
Oral Hygiene after Eating
While it is necessary to brush the teeth twice every day, it is also important for children to learn to rinse their mouth well after every meal. This will wash out and remove any food remnants or particles stuck to the teeth.
Using a Good Mouthwash
Once the child is sufficiently older, you can encourage him/her to start using a good mouthwash for the teeth. This greatly prevents the build up of plaque in the mouth, which eventually leads to dental decay and cavities.
Reduce in Between Snacking
In between snacking, is perhaps the biggest reason for dental corrosion and decay in young children. This happens when children consume sugary juices, fizzy drinks, chips and chocolates in between meals. This leads to the build up of carie causing bacterial plaque. In fact, how often your child consumes such foods is more important than the quantity of the food being consumed. Make sure you do not keep such snacks at home. The child should have a healthy breakfast so that he/she does not feel too hungry in between meals.
Get your child to Drink enough Water
Encourage the practice of drinking enough water as this too helps in curbing the rise of dental caries. Water does a good job of flushing the mouth and reducing bad breath and left over food particles.
Sugar free Gum
You can support your child’s sweet tooth buy giving him/her some sugar free gum to chew on. Xylitol is said to be very beneficial.
Some children have permanent molars that have crevices on their surfaces. These surfaces can become carious if not sealed. Ask your dentist to use a resin to seal the crevice in order to prevent further tooth decay.
It is very important for parents to supervise their child’s oral habits and ensure that they learn the correct brushing techniques. This paves the way for stronger teeth and better oral hygiene. Your child will not be distracted from his/her school performance and will enjoy good oral health well into early and late adulthood. This will prove to be very rewarding for both the child and the parent.