Dental health in children (how to maintain it)Untreated tooth decay is the most prevalent disease for children in Australia.
One in four Australian children between the ages of 5 and 10 have it, which is a staggering statistic.
Tooth decay occurs when harmful bacteria in the mouth turns into plaque that damages the enamel on teeth. If not cleaned away, this plaque eventually creates a cavity – which causes pain, discomfort and embarrassment for the child (who may have discoloured teeth as a result).
There’s now a fair amount of research suggesting that tooth decay may actually increase a person’s risk of developing chronic health problems (like dementia, stroke and heart disease) later in life.
Thankfully tooth decay is easily preventable, in most cases (unless your child has a developmental condition or genetic predisposition to dental caries – then a little extra dental care is required).
But for everyone else, prevention is usually straightforward.
Take your child to the dentist if you notice any of these signs:
Discoloured spots on the teeth (especially brown, black or grey in colour) Dull white band near the gums Brown, black or yellow band near the gums Pain in the tooth or mouth Sensitive teeth when eating or drinking Bad breath
The earlier that tooth decay is caught, the easier it is for your dentist to treat. However, prevention is always the best approach.
How to prevent tooth decay in children:
Teach your child to look after their teeth (brushing and flossing)
If you have young children who are old enough to brush their own teeth:
Make sure they do this twice a day (morning and night), and properly (two minutes each time). Here’s a guide from the Australian Dental Association. If your child hates brushing their teeth, a colourful electric toothbrush might make the process more exciting.
Teach your child how to floss their teeth (once a day)
Choose a children’s toothpaste with the appropriate amount of fluoride for young children (400-550 ppm)
For toddlers and babies:
You will need to gently clean their teeth for them, using a toothbrush for babies and water. Don’t use a fluoride toothpaste before 18 months (even a low-fluoride toothpaste shouldn’t be used until they’re two years old).
Limit their sugar intake:
Harmful bacteria love sugar that lingers in the mouth. There’s nothing wrong with sugary foods and drinks in moderation, but avoid giving your child too many sweet foods or drinks (including fruit juice).
Remember that cavities are contagious: Just as you can pass on a common cold, the same can be said about tooth decay – thanks to the contagious bacteria mutans streptococcus. Avoid sharing utensils, blowing on your baby’s food or sharing your saliva in any way, if you have signs of tooth decay.
Take your child to the dentist from the age of two:
We recommend taking your child to see their dentist from the age of two. Your dentist will check bone, teeth and gum development – while also advising on how to set up strong dental habits.
Please note, the federal government is offering eligible families up to $1000 for basic dental services for children aged between two and 17 (this covers two years).
Book an appointment with North Square Dental in North Kellyville:
Our experienced team values every patient, and we go out of our way to deliver the best treatment options. Call us on (02) 8213 7455 or fill out our contact form to find out more.