We all know about child tooth decay but what can we do as parents to ensure that our children's teeth are protected?
Always buy fluoride toothpaste as this will help prevent decay. Don't be too tempted to buy the special children's toothpastes available. It is more important that you look for the right level of fluoride. From the age of seven check that the fluoride content is 1350-1500 ppm which is 'parts per million'. For children younger than this look for 1000 ppm fluoride. Also check the quantity used. Below the age of three you just need a smear of toothpaste, from three to six you need to ensure they use a pea sized amount. Start when they are young with a soft bristled toothbrush.
Your child should be brushing twice a day, best after breakfast and before bedtime.They should be brushing for at least two minutes and do make sure they are doing it properly. Watch them or do it yourself to ensure that all parts of the teeth are brushed.Most children after 7 can brush their own teeth but it wont hurt to check they are doing it properly. Try to encourage them to look in a mirror to see what they are doing, use an egg timer if you are using a manual toothbrush to check the time and don't let them walk around with a toothbrush. This can they be dangerous if they slip.Also get them used to using floss to remove food in-between the teeth and also consider mouthwash, but look for special children's mouthwash which is kinder on their teeth than adult mouthwash.
Seeing a dentist is free so don't worry about needing to pay for it.Your child should see a dentist when their milk teeth appear. This can be really helpful to give your child a positive experience of the dentist and remove any worries they may have. Even if a dentist just looks inside their mouth it can stop any irrational fears developing.
Tooth decay is caused when acid producing bacteria eats away at the teeth causing cavities.A major cause of tooth decay in children is inadequate tooth brushing but also eating a lot of sugary drinks and snacks.So ideally the best thing for them to drink is water. If you do want to give your children milk or juice then encourage them to drink it quickly so that it doesn't linger in the mouth. Also, again if you have to give your children juice then give it at meal times and only in a small glass. Also watch the amount of sugary foods they eat particularly snacks. Dried fruits contain a huge amount of sugar so do watch out for foods that may seem healthy but actually contain a lot of sugar.
One of the biggest causes of tooth decay in children is allowing them to go to bed with a bottle of milk or juice. This means that the milk or juice just sits in their mouth all night, creating a huge breeding ground for the bacteria that causes decay. Also check the amount of citrus foods your child eats, as the acid in citrus foods weakens enamel.
Make sure that your children see you brushing your teeth and seeing it as important as you are the role model. If as a family you all regularly brush your teeth, and floss then your children should follow your lead.