Knowing that permanent teeth will replace milk teeth in children, many parents overlook dental care for their children. As a result, many children consume unhealthy products and do not care for their teeth while they are still healthy. Many of such children later experience tooth decay in the early stages of their life and go under physical/mental pain. This article explains how tooth decay occurs and what parents can do to safeguard their children against it.
What causes tooth decay in children?
Every time we consume sugary products, or anything sweet for that matter, an invisible layer of sugar remains on our teeth that is consumed by bacteria living in our mouths. These bacteria, in turn, produce acid, which damages our enamel (the outer surface of our teeth). Amazingly enough, the saliva in our mouths helps fight such damages to some extent. However, with constant consumption of sweet products and poor oral hygiene, a sticky substance called plaque forms on our teeth. This is indeed where bacteria reside and reproduce. The permanent presence of plaque on our teeth allows bacteria to make acid which eventually destroys the enamel. What makes the scenario worse for children is that they generally consume more sugary products than adults do. Also, their teeth are more vulnerable to acids than ours.
What are the symptoms of tooth decay in children?
Unfortunately, symptoms of tooth decay in children appear too late. Parents usually notice tooth decay long after it’s begun. It is usually a cavity or an infected tooth in the child’s mouth that helps parents realize their child needs oral care. Other symptoms which appear just before tooth decay are:
- Constant toothache
- Swelling in gum
- Gray, black, or brown spots in teeth
- Bad breath
How you can prevent tooth decay in children
Tooth decay creates mental and physical problems for children. In severe cases, children show signs of depression and anxiety, and parents turn to psychiatrists for help. That’s why you should do your best to ensure your child has healthy teeth. Here are four tips to help you prevent tooth decay in your child.
Limit your child’s intake of sugary products
As stated above, sugary products are the main cause of tooth decay in children. Therefore, you must limit your child’s intake of such products and alert them of the health issues sugary products create. Explain to your child that sweet products can have a destructive effect on one’s overall health, including their teeth. You can also teach them to wash their mouths and brush their teeth every time they consume something sweet. This way, the chances of plaque forming on your child’s teeth are much less, meaning that your child will probably not experience tooth decay.
Encourage regular oral hygiene
Closely related to the previous tip is regular oral hygiene. Let your child realize that it’s not only sugar that damages their teeth, and they should take care of their teeth regardless of what they eat. Encourage your child to brush their teeth before bed and after consuming sweet products. Flossing and gargling are two other healthy habits that children enjoy doing. A combination of such oral hygiene practices ensures your child’s oral health and prevents any cavity in their teeth.
Include plenty of milk and fruit in your child’s diet
We know perfectly well that calcium is an essential element for healthy bones and teeth. That is why milk should be an inseparable part of your child’s diet. As for fruits, they are much healthier than most sweet snacks your child eats daily. Most fruits contain little sugar, which is easily removed from our teeth by a simple mouthwash. Fruits are also a major source of vitamins that help the body resist infections. So, by including plenty of milk and fruits in your child’s diet, you will immune their teeth against infections and, to a great extent, prevent cavities.
Consider annual dentist visits
Following the tips above will help you prevent tooth decay in children. However, you can never be too sure that your child has no dental issues. It is quite possible that some of your child’s teeth are decaying without showing any signs. Thus, you should take your child for a dentist visit at least once a year. This also reduces your child’s fear of going to the dentist when they grow older, and their teeth need medical care.
Tooth decay is a widespread phenomenon in children and creates many problems for parents. With good oral care and healthy eating, you can prevent tooth decay in children. Reducing sugar intake and taking them for a dentist visit from time to time will guarantee your kid’s dental health. Of course, there are other ways you can prevent tooth decay and enjoy a happy smile.