Tooth decay is a common disease throughout the world, and many children will go on to develop cavities in their teeth. An untreated cavity can cause toothache, greatly affecting a child’s well-being and health. Tooth decay will worsen without treatment because it is a bacterial infection that cannot clear up without professional dental care. In addition to toothache, children affected by tooth decay can suffer from:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Problems with eating can affect the growth and development
- Speech problems
- Lower self-esteem can lead to social isolation
- Untreated cavities can damage the permanent teeth developing underneath
- There is a higher risk of other teeth developing tooth decay
- Problems concentrating at school or missing a significant amount of schooling due to pain and the subsequent dental care needed for severely infected teeth
Although tooth decay may be common, it is preventable with the right oral hygiene habits. We have listed some points to follow below if you have a young child.
Make sure you do not put your baby to sleep with a bottle containing anything other than water. You can begin brushing their teeth as soon as they appear using a small baby toothbrush and either plain water or a smear of toothpaste. Ask us for advice on which we would recommend, as it is best to book your child’s first dental visit as soon as they get their first teeth.
From age one to eighteen months, you should be brushing your child’s teeth twice a day. We can show you how to brush them thoroughly when you bring your child to visit us using the proper techniques. From age one onwards, a child should be able to drink from a cup.
Between ages one and a half and five years, you can start brushing your child’s teeth with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. You will need to help your child brush their teeth until they are aged eight because, before this age, they lack the dexterity needed to complete this task. Milk and plain water are the best drinks for a child, and it is better to avoid fruit juice that can be laden with sugar, regardless of your child’s age. Instead, encourage kids to eat fruit that contains useful fibre.
General Tips for Looking after Your Child’s Teeth
We recommend an initial dental visit by age one, so our dentist can make sure your child’s teeth are developing properly, and we can talk to you about how best to care for them at home. Many parents find this initial visit extremely helpful, especially for first-time mums and dads. Make sure you use an appropriate child-sized toothbrush to clean your child’s teeth. As they get older, it can be a good idea to involve them in choosing a toothbrush as there are many appealing designs available for kids, which can help get them more interested in dental care. Please encourage your child to eat healthily and limit their access to processed foods and foods high in sugars, including sports drinks and energy drinks.