Preventing tooth decay in kids

Wondering how to keep your little one’s teeth healthy and how to prevent tooth decay in kids? 
We spoke to Paediatric Dentists Dr Sarah and Dr Tim from the Children’s Dental Centre to find out.

Dental decay is common in Australian children, with 
around 50 per cent having cavities in their mouth. We spoke to Paediatric Dentists Dr Sarah and Dr Tim from the Children’s Dental Centre to find about out the simple steps we can take to reduce the chance our children will have cavities and to ensure a healthy mouth for life.

When should you start brushing a baby’s teeth?

As soon as the first tooth has ‘cut through the gum’, you should start using a small, soft toothbrush with a small amount of fluoride toothpaste – about the size of a grain of rice. Fluoride toothpaste, when used under supervision, is safe and is the most effective way to reduce dental decay. Starting early will help your child get used to the sensations and help you have an easier time with brushing as they get older.

When should you start seeing a dentist?

It’s important to see a dentist when your baby’s first tooth comes through. Certainly before 12 months of age. Children who see a dentist in their first year have an average of four less fillings and extractions than those who first see a dentist later in life. This is just like many of the other well-baby checks you will have and is mostly an opportunity to chat with the dentist about the oral health of your baby and for your child to experience visiting the dentist. If you are worried about how your baby will go at the dentist, consider visiting a Paediatric Dentist. We are highly trained experts in children’s oral health and will ensure that your visit and check-up are stress free!

Are baby teeth important?

Baby teeth are crucial for so many aspects of your child’s life. These teeth help them eat and talk, and give them their beautiful smile! The back baby molars don’t fall out until around 11 or 12 years of age, and it can be a stressful experience if your child develops cavities and needs fillings or extractions. This can also affect the development of their mouth and adult teeth. Also, kids without cavities in their baby teeth are much less likely to have cavities in their adult teeth.

Seeing a dentist is quite different from when we were children! These days, paediatric dentistry focuses on prevention rather than drilling and filling. Having a healthy diet, good oral hygiene and seeing the dentist early will all help your children have healthy teeth for life.

What causes cavities and tooth decay in children?

Cavities form when bacteria that sit on the teeth are exposed to sugars and then release acid that dissolves the tooth. In Australia, sugar is found in many of our foods and drinks, so check labels for ‘hidden sugars’. Lactose, the sugar in milk can also result in cavities. Breastfeeding guidelines recommend that it can be continued for as long as the mum and baby are comfortable doing so. However, on demand breastfeeding at night-time or any other form of milk sitting in the mouth whilst the child is sleeping should be avoided once your baby has teeth, as it can result in dental caries.

Dr Sarah and Tim are Paediatric Dentists at Children’s Dental Centre in Minyama. They are passionate about the oral health of kids and are happy to answer any questions you may have.


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