How Your Child Can Be Cavity Free for Life
Tooth decay is a transmissible infectious disease which is preventable. The cavities that some children suffer from are the result of a bacterial infection. Some good eating and home care habits will make a difference as well as regular visits to the dentist.
- Healthy Eating for Good Teeth
It is how often your child eats that can influence whether or not he/she is susceptible to cavities. Eating more than 5 times per day is increasing risk. So, try to limit eating to 3 main meals and not more than 2 snacks. That’s eating 5 times a day and this is sufficient for good nutrition. Try not to have more than 2 sweet snacks or drinks per day and preferably none.
Grazing (snacking) is bad for teeth.
Any fermentable carbohydrate can be turned into acid by mouth bacteria and contribute to tooth decay. This includes bread, pasta, rice, biscuits, crackers, potatoes, cereals, fruit, muesli bars, chips and not just sweet foods.
It is best to limit
- sweet drinks (juice, cordial, flavoured milk, soft drink)
- Milo or Quik (each 200ml serve has 20g of sugar = 4 teaspoons)
- processed foods made with white flour and sugar (cakes, biscuits)
- dried fruit
- muesli bars, rollups, fruit sticks, fruit bars, LCM bars etc
- starchy foods (chips, rice crackers, rice cakes, white bread)
- lollies especially those held in the mouth for lengthy periods (eg Chupa Chups)
- fresh fruit but no more than 2 serves of fruit per day
- wholegrain breads and biscuits
- yoghurt (with limited added sugar)
- nuts (if allowed and not allergic) eg almonds, macadamias, pecans, walnuts
2. Good Teeth Cleaning
It is very important that parents/caregivers brush children’s teeth daily and preferably twice daily until around the age of 9 years. Little kids don’t have the dexterity to clean properly until around this age.
As soon as your child is able to spit out the toothpaste, you should go from a low fluoride children’s toothpaste to a 6+ age toothpaste. This has more fluoride and will help to protect their teeth better.
Low fluoride baby strength toothpastes have limited effect to prevent cavities
It is also important to try to start flossing as soon as back teeth have contacts, where the teeth touch together side by side. Brushing alone cannot get to these surfaces.
3. Regular Dental Visits
It is important to take your child to the dentist for checkups to help get good habits in place and advice about diet and oral hygiene. Your child needs help to learn that the dentist is there to help maintain healthy teeth for life.
A number of routine visits for checkups where there is no requirement for treatment builds up confidence and trust in the child. This is like a bank account of good experiences. In the event that the child later needs to have some dental work, they already have trust in the dentist and the procedure is more likely to be positive.