How to prevent tooth decay in children

A survey by Public Health England has revealed that one in 10 three-year-olds has tooth decay. Toddlers had an average of three teeth that were decayed, missing or filled.

There are some simple steps that parents can follow to prevent this:

  • Avoid sugary drinks and snacks – The British Nutrition Foundation advices that foods and drinks containing sugar should be kept to mealtimes only. The more often your toddler has sugary foods or drinks, the more likely they are to get tooth decay. As a dentist, I recommend that children should have sugar-containing foods and drinks no more than four times a day.
  • What are good snacks – snacks such as fruit and raw vegetables, including tangerines, bananas, pieces of cucumber or carrot sticks. Other good snacks include toast, rice cakes and plain popcorn. Plus, limit the sugary drinks, water and milk are the best drinks for toddlers.
  • Brush teeth twice a day – Thorough brushing for two minutes, twice a day, once before bed, will help to prevent tooth decay using a small pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. As a dentist, I advise that you should start brushing children’s teeth as soon as the first tooth appears and supervise their tooth brushing until they are seven or eight years old.
  • Regular dental check-ups – we offer free children’s dental check-ups for existing patients. Children’s examinations are held on a Monday during school half term in Feb, July & October. The next one scheduled is 31st July so call our reception and get your child booked in for a quick check up.

This is what I advise J

Childrens teeth 

There are three main things that we feel are very important when taking care of your children’s teeth:

  1. AVOID SUGAR IN BETWEEN MEALS!!!!!- the single most important thing that you need to do is train your children, and their guardians, that sugar in between meals will ALWAYS rot/decay the child’s teeth.  The quantity is not relevant, it is the frequency of exposure of sugar that matters.  Our advice is simple- only allow your children to have sugar with one of their three meals a day.  Simple J.
  1. FLUORIDE IS AWESOME!!!  We advise that fluoride is used twice a day via an age appropriate children’s tooth paste.  Only small amounts are required so we recommend dipping the toothbrush into the toothpaste itself.  If the child eats too much toothpaste they may end up with Fluorosis (white/brown mottling on their adult teeth).
  1. USE AN ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSH -  Cleaning your own teeth is hard, cleaning someone else’s is even harder.  Now try it on a 2-year-old L.  It thus makes sense to use the best tool we have to clean the teeth and that is an electric toothbrush.  Sometimes it’s easier to start with a child’s battery powered toothbrush but we advise moving up to a rechargeable brush as soon as you can.

Obviously it is also important to allow us to see your child for a dental examination at least once a year so we can ensure you are doing the right things and that the teeth are developing normally.