Preventing Tooth Decay In Young Children

mother and daughter brushing their teeth together

When your child is still learning their ABCs, how do you teach them the importance of oral health? You know that when your kid gets older, they’ll thank you for encouraging great dental care. But at their current age, they’re more concerned with their newest toy or an upcoming playdate. 

Even though baby teeth fall out eventually, it’s still important to take care of them – otherwise, bacteria may cause problems for your child’s adult teeth. In Canada, up to 57% of young children (ages 6-11) have developed a cavity. This goes to show just how common early childhood caries (or cavities) are. But your child doesn’t have to suffer from dental issues. 

What can you do to keep your child’s teeth free from tooth decay? With these oral care tips, you can help your kid maintain a beautiful smile:


Before Their First Teeth Emerge

Did you know that dental care begins even before your baby’s teeth emerge? The soft foods they eat leave bacteria behind, which can affect their developing teeth. 

You can clean their mouth by using a warm, soft washcloth to wipe your baby’s gums. By cleaning their gum line, you can encourage good dental health even from a young age. 

After the first tooth appears, take your baby for their first dental check-up. It won’t be long before the rest of their baby teeth start emerging, so it’s best to get a head start on dental care. 

During the appointment, you can let them sit on your lap to help ease their anxiety. Soon, your baby will learn that the dental clinic is nothing to be afraid of!


A Healthy Smile Starts with a Healthy Diet

As children, we’re naturally drawn to sweets. We crave brightly-coloured lollipops, sticky gum, and fruit juices. On a diet like this, it’s no wonder why kids are at high risk for tooth decay.

The foods your child eats directly affect their oral health. When your kid eats high sugar foods, they can develop tooth decay that affects them for a lifetime. By switching out candies for whole grains and vegetables, you can help them grow strong, cavity-free teeth. 

You know it’s important for your child to consume healthy foods and drinks. What can you do to encourage better habits? We’ve put together a few tips to help you out:

    • Stock the pantry with great after-meal snacks. Most of us crave dessert once we finish dinner. But if you don’t fill your home with sweets, you won’t have the option to reach for them. Instead, stock up on cheese, yogurt with fruit, and peanut butter with whole-grain crackers. These tasty alternatives are a great way to reduce your kid’s sugar consumption. Once you cut out sugary foods, you’ll find that you start craving them less frequently. 
    • Limit their intake of soft drinks and other high sugar liquids. Soda is bad news for teeth. We recommend avoiding carbonated beverages altogether. When you’re buying fruit juice, watch out for high sugar content; try to choose unsweetened or low-sugar drinks instead.
  • Load up on veggies and fruits. Whenever your child asks for a snack, offer them a plate of raw vegetables. They’re full of fibre, which helps naturally clean your kid’s teeth. They also contain nutrients that promote bone growth and strong teeth. On top of that, they’re pretty tasty, too!


Don’t Send Them to Bed with Juice!

During the day, it’s no problem to give your child fruit juice. But at night, this exposes their baby teeth to mouth bacteria. Once they’re finished drinking breast milk or formula, brush their teeth, and refill the bottle with water. This prevents sugar from sitting on your child’s teeth at night and causing baby bottle tooth decay. 

Sugary drinks are especially damaging to a young child’s oral health. After your child falls asleep, those harmful sugars erode the hard outer layer of their teeth (called the tooth enamel). This makes them more susceptible to developing cavities.

Frequent bottle feedings can result in early tooth decay. To prevent prolonged contact with sugar, send your child to bed with water instead of juice. And make sure to wash their gums or brush their teeth first!


Dental Sealants

Even though you’ve taught them the importance of brushing and flossing, it’s still hard to get kids to stick to a routine. Despite your best efforts, you’re still noticing signs of erosion and decay. 

Without proper dental care, your child could develop a cavity on an adult tooth. Many kids have a hard time brushing the teeth at the back of their mouths, which can affect their permanent teeth. Luckily, there’s a solution: Dental sealants.

Sealants are a clear protective coating added to the back teeth in your child’s mouth. The thin plastic helps protect the deeper grooves of their teeth from food debris and bacteria. If your child has trouble taking care of their teeth, ask your dentist about sealants. 


Use Fluoride

Looking for a way to reinforce your kid’s teeth? Fluoride helps strengthen the outer protective layer on your teeth. It protects against erosion of the enamel. 

But how can you use fluoride to fight off cavities? A convenient way to do so is by drinking fluoridated water. In Winnipeg, our tap water contains safe levels of added fluoride – but what if your family prefers filtered water? In that case, you can try using fluoride toothpaste with your child. You only need to use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. 

A word of warning: Using too much fluoride is not a good thing. It may cause fluorosis, which leaves white marks on the teeth.

Alternatively, you can schedule a cleaning at our Winnipeg Dental Clinic, and we can apply a fluoride treatment to your child’s teeth.


Brush and Floss Together

You and your child do so many things together; you read stories, play games, and snuggle. Try to take care of your teeth together, too! When your child sees you brushing and flossing every day, it will encourage them to do the same. 

During this time, you can teach your child about the tooth decay process. It helps to use metaphors when you’re telling young children about the importance of good oral habits. You can explain sugary foods as something that attacks your teeth, while good oral hygiene helps protect them. 

If you have trouble getting your child to brush or floss, try to make a game of it! Play their favourite songs while you both brush your teeth. Or, let them pick out their own toothbrush at the grocery store. 

When you make a habit of following healthy habits together, you can encourage great oral hygiene and help prevent tooth decay.


Visit a Dentist

A dental professional can examine your baby’s teeth and make specific recommendations. For example, they might suggest things like using a soft toothbrush or cutting back on sweet foods. They can educate you about how to prevent toddler tooth decay.

We recommend taking your child to see the dentist regularly. With routine dental care, you can save your child’s teeth from early tooth decay.


Book Your Appointment Today!

You know it’s important to prevent tooth decay, but your child doesn’t always understand that. Our dentists can help set your child up for a lifetime of excellent oral hygiene. If you’re seeking an appointment for children’s dental in Winnipeg, contact Affinity Dental today!