Preventing tooth decay and cavities in children

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Oral Hygiene and Dental Therapy
BOH (Adel)

The questions parents most often ask about preventing tooth decay and cavities in children.

Concerning statistics from the 2011 Child Dental Health Survey show that almost half of Australian children aged 5 and 6 have one or more cavities in their baby teeth, while one in ten children of all ages have more than seven cavities. Answers to the following questions should help you protect your child from joining this worrying trend to tooth decay.

If my child has eaten sweet foods, what can I do to help prevent tooth decay?

Try to restrict your child’s consumption of sweets to special occasions – ideally preceded by a balanced meal; we caution against grazing or snacking on sweet foods. After consuming any sweet foods your child should be encouraged to either brush their teeth or, if not at home, to chew sugar-free gum as this will help to clean the teeth. Rinsing with water can also make a difference.

How soon, and how, should my child’s first teeth be cleaned?

You should start cleaning your toddler’s teeth as soon as they come through – usually when they are about 6 months of age but sometimes as early as 3 months or as late as 14 months. For children under 2, it’s best to use only water (no toothpaste) on a small soft toothbrush or even a face washer; and for toddlers over 2 you can use a child-strength toothpaste.

At what age is it recommended that my child start cleaning their own teeth?

Most children can start brushing their own teeth from the age of 7. However, until the child is about 10 years old an adult should always check afterwards that the teeth have been cleaned properly to prevent tooth decay.

What is the best method of brushing teeth for older children?

Always use a soft toothbrush, preferably one that’s appropriate for the child’s age – for example, Stage 4 for a four year old. We recommend electric toothbrushes over manual. As for the type of toothpaste that’s best for children, all Colgate and Oral B products are suitable as long as they are low foam, low mint and low fluoride.

Should my child be flossing their teeth?

Children don’t develop manual dexterity until about the age of 10, so parents should floss their children’s teeth each night to prevent cavities in between the teeth.

 

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