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How to Prevent Tooth Decay in Children

parent preventing a childs tooth decay

It’s essential to protect your child’s oral health from birth through adulthood. Unfortunately, many children develop tooth decay. This can lead to serious oral health problems later in life. Tooth decay occurs when bacteria in the mouth begins to eat away at their teeth. Fortunately, there are steps parents can take to help prevent tooth decay.

At Tooth Fairy Pediatric Dental, teaching how to prevent child tooth decay is an essential part of how we care for your child’s teeth. It’s much more effective and affordable to implement preventative measures than to fix larger issues later on, so incorporate these habits into your child’s daily routine.

Tooth Decay Prevention Starts Early

Prevention begins before your child is even born. A mother’s diet while pregnant contributes to the baby developing healthy primary teeth in the womb. After birth, parents should gently cleanse their baby’s gums with a soft cloth or a finger toothbrush to remove lingering traces of milk or formula. Healthy teeth begin with healthy gums, so lay the foundation now.

baby in high chair in bathroom brushing teeth

Once children start teething, begin brushing their teeth with a soft-bristled brush. Infants should visit a pediatric dentist for a preventive care exam no later than age one, or six months after their first tooth erupts.

At this exam, your pediatric dentist will go over how to prevent child tooth decay. They will also conduct a thorough examination of your child’s mouth and teeth. This early visit is essential, as it not only familiarizes your little one with the dentist, but also gives the dentist a chance to spot potential issues early.

They will also advise you on proper brushing techniques, which toothbrush and toothpaste combination is best, and when to start using mouthwash. If you make this experience a positive one for your child, they will look forward to their dental visits for years to come.

Practice Proper Brushing

One of the simplest and most important ways for how to prevent child tooth decay is by encouraging good tooth brushing habits. Your child should brush their teeth twice a day, using a soft-bristled toothbrush that won’t irritate their sensitive gums. They need to brush for the entire two minutes both times to ensure proper cleansing.

If your child is older than age two, they can use a small amount of fluoride toothpaste. Children younger than age 6 will need their parents’ help to make sure that they’re brushing thoroughly.

Other Tools to Prevent Tooth Decay

cropped image of baby sitting beside half-eaten piece of chocolate cake on paper plate

Diet plays an important role in a child’s dental health and preventing tooth decay. Sugar feeds the bacteria that form plaque. This plaque is responsible for tooth decay and gum infection.

To prevent child tooth decay, avoid giving your child sugary juices, candies, and sodas, and never let your child go to bed with a bottle. Try substituting sugary drinks with milk or water to help reduce your child’s risk for tooth decay.

Also limit sugary foods like desserts and even simple carbs, like white bread. The sugar in bread breaks down the same way as desserts, so these foods can contribute to tooth decay if eaten in excess.

The Pediatric Dentist’s Role in Preventing Tooth Decay

Depending on your child’s age, oral health, and risk factors, a pediatric dentist may recommend in-office preventive treatments as methods for how to prevent child tooth decay. For example, fluoride treatments may help strengthen the enamel, especially in children who live in areas with low fluoride levels in the local water.

Another option is dental sealants, which are placed on newly erupted permanent molars to fill in pits and crevices that are susceptible to decay. Talk to your pediatric dentist to see what preventative options are best for your child’s teeth.

At Tooth Fairy Pediatric Dental, our team will do everything we can to prevent tooth decay in children. To learn more about decay prevention or to make your child’s next dental appointment, contact us today.

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