My child doesn’t eat much sugar but still has cavities. What is going on?

There are many factors involved in tooth decay and it is not just sugary foods that can contribute. In fact, any type of carbohydrate can be turned into acid by the bacteria in the mouth, even things like bread, savoury biscuits, rice, potato, and pasta.

Most people don’t realize that it is the number of times per day that food is eaten that is more important than the actual sugar or carbohydrate content. So, for example, a child who grazes all day long is at much greater risk of tooth decay than a child who eats 3 main meals and 2 snacks.

Added to this is breast or bottle feeding. So a child eating 3 main meals and 2 snacks plus breast or bottle feeding several times per day in addition will have increased risk of tooth decay. This is why it is recommended, for dental reasons, to stop at will breast or bottle feeding after the age of 12 months.

Brushing twice per day with a fluoride toothpaste is also vitally important to prevent decay. Don’t think of it as just removing plaque, but also providing “medication for teeth” in the form of fluoride in the toothpaste.

Also remember, the last thing that should touch a child’s teeth before sleep time is a toothbrush with age appropriate fluoride toothpaste.