Dr Darryl Marsh writes… In this blog entry we look at 7 ways to help avoid cavities in your child’s teeth.
Darryl’s Dental Tip: “The easiest way to do this is with a tool called a ‘flossette’. These can be purchased from chemists or from your dentist. Using toothpaste on the flossette has been shown to lower decay rates by reducing the survival rates of harmful bacteria.”
Step 1: Why not try a flossette?
Everyone knows that daily brushing is vital to help prevent cavities, aka tooth decay in children.
However, high percentages of cavities in children below 12 years of age occur between the back teeth where a brush will often not reach. This is why it is important to floss these back teeth.
Make sure you also throw away that ‘shaggy dog toothbrush’. Toothbrushes with more than three months of wear were 17% less effective at cleaning than new toothbrushes. Dental researches recommended all toothbrushes be replaced every three months.
An electric toothbrush is 15% more effective at cleaning than a normal toothbrush. In recent studies the Braun Oral B electric toothbrush was found to be most effective.
Step 2: Clear one hour before bedtime
Do not allow your children to eat or drink anything but water within one hour of their bedtime. Recent studies in England report 2-16 year old children, who snack less than one hour before bedtime, had four times the number of cavities of those who did not.
“Darryl’s Dental Tip: It is important to be aware that many common children’s medicines contain sugars, which can damage teeth. These can cause as much decay as lollies.”
Step 3: Chewing gum can help!
Researchers have found that pregnant women who chewed sugar-free gum had reduced decay causing bacteria AND so did their babies. Not only can chewing sugar-free gum reduce bad bacteria, some gums can help repair areas of ‘early decay’.
Step 4: Cut down on snacks, juice and dried fruit
Naturally, reduced snacking between meals (especially of sugary foods or drinks) is important. It is important to note that this includes fruit juice and dried fruit products.
“The addition of a milk protein based calcium and phosphorous compound (such as Recaldent gum) was found to be twice as effective remineralising or ‘healing’ the enamel as a regular sugar-free gum.”
Of course, never let your baby go to sleep with a bottle of anything but water to avoid wide spread ‘baby bottle decay’.
Step 5: Dairy foods are essential for strong teeth
Melbourne researchers have shown that within five minutes of eating a piece of cheddar or Swiss cheese, the level of calcium in the saliva increased by about ten fold. The calcium in saliva is very important in helping prevent tooth decay.
Step 6: Using Fluoride and other ‘tooth strengthening’ agents
Like other Australian capital cities, Brisbane now has fluoride in its drinking water. This means that dental researchers do not recommend the use of fluoride tablets as these commonly cause fluorosis – an unsightly whitish and brown mottling of the tooth enamel.
Using special children’s tooth paste, combined with regular six monthly dental visits for more concentrated treatments are the best way to reduce cavities.
Step 7: Don’t let your child skip their six monthly dental visits
It is a good idea to start bringing your children to the dentist for, what we call ‘active maintenance visits’ from the age of four.
Although some dentists may recommend seeing children as early as age one, in our experience it is uncommon for children to have any major problems before this time.
Four is also an age when a child is more able to understand what is happening and is not scared or overwhelmed by such a new experience.
Naturally if you can see any dark areas in the teeth or if your child complains of any teeth problems, your dentist will be happy to see them at any age.
At these appointments we examine for any signs of decay or infection, but just as importantly we try to give the child a positive and fun experience so that they are happy to return in the future.
And when children have no “hang-ups” about dental visits it means they are more likely to attend for the preventive treatments that helps them avoid any cavities, infections, or other problems. This makes for not only a healthier mouth for the child , but also much more pleasant visits for everyone.