To reduce your child's risk of tooth decay and dental erosion:
It's a good idea to bring your child when you come in for your routine dental check-ups, even when he or she is too young to have teeth. This helps your child get familiar with the people and the surroundings of the dental surgery. We will look in your child's mouth in an informal way, and may count how many teeth have erupted and spot any early signs of tooth decay. We like to carry out quick, informal check-ups like this help to encourage good co-operation with us when your child is older.
Children usually need to vist us more often than adults, childrens milk teeth are smaller and have thinner enamel than permanent teeth, so decay can spread very quickly. Regular check-ups help us prevent and treat decay before it causes toothache.
Reducing sugar in your child's diet is the best way to prevent tooth decay, we all know how much children like sweets and sugary drinks, however, it's the frequency in which children eat and drink sugary and acidic food rather than the amount that affects dental erosion. If a sensible approach is taken, we can keep dental erosion to a minimum - for example, don't brush your childs teeth at bedtime and then give them sweets or acidic drinks afterwards.
Keep squashes, fizzy drinks, natural fruit juices, sweets and cakes to a minimum. Don't give your child sugary foods and drinks as snacks between meals or before bedtime. Watch out for hidden sugars in sauces, breakfast cereals, etc.
Fruit, vegetables, cheese and milk are all healthier snacks because they contain natural sugars. However, it is worth taking note that as well as natural sugars, fruit is often highly acidic, which can cause decay if eaten in large amounts. Finishing a meal with a glass of milk will neutralise the acid in your child's mouth.
Older children can chew sugar-free gum after meals, especially containing xylitol, as this helps remove bacteria and prevents decay.
Water and milk don’t cause tooth decay or erosion, be aware however, that some flavoured milks and waters often contain high amounts of sugar, often in equally or higher quantities than the perceived "less health alternatives" so always ready the ingredients. This is also true of breakfast cereals, some of these contain such large amounts of sugar that in effect, if a child brushes his teeth before breakfast - he is bathing his teeth in a sugar solution all day.
Brushing should start as soon as they come through the gums using the special toothbrushes available for babies.
Make toothbrushing a regular activity, in the morning and before bedtime, the aim is to make brushing part of your child's daily routine. With younger children it is advisable not to brush the teeth for at least one hour after eating or drinking anything acidic (such as orange juice) – as this gives time for the teeth to build up their mineral content.
Teach them how to brush their own teeh over time, using a gentle, circular motion and fluoride toothpaste. You should supervise your child while they are learning to brush.
Most modern toothpaste contains fluoride, which strengthens the tooth enamel making it more resistant to decay. Fluoride is also added to the water supply in about 10 percent of the UK. In these areas, there has been much less tooth decay. The amount of fluoride in different brands of toothpaste varies and as such you should not really use "adult toothpaste" for children, there are many brands available in the supermarket aimed at the child market but if you are unsure, please ask us and we will advise you. Children under three only need an amount roughly equal to a match head, after that, use an amount about the size of a small pea until your child is six.