How to prevent tooth decay in children

September is Oral health month so now is a great time to get back into some healthy habits. Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in Irish children. Fortunately, tooth decay is preventable and this is an achievable aim for Irish children.

Diet plays a huge role in causing tooth decay. Bacteria present in the mouth combined with sugars can over time dissolve the protective enamel of the tooth, creating cavities. It is not the amount of sugar we take in but more importantly, how often we eat and drink. By avoiding snacking between main meals and following these guidelines we can reduce tooth decay.

• Avoid frequent snacking

• Avoid sugary foods and drinks

• Keep any juices to meal times only

• Drink water

• Use a fluoride toothpaste twice daily (only for children over two )

• Visit your dentist regularly.

Baby bottle decay is a big problem also. Leaving a child to go to sleep with a bottle of milk or juice allows the sweet liquid to cover the teeth for an extended period which can have disastrous effects. Replacing the milk or juice with water will prevent any damage to the teeth.

Brushing twice daily is important to keep teeth and gums healthy. There are additional effective ways of preventing decay which include sealants and fluoride treatments which you can speak to your dentist about.

Hopefully, the times of children fearing the dentist have passed. By bringing children along to visit the dentist regularly from an early age, prevention of tooth decay and gum disease should be the goal. By doing this, we can avoid pain and infection and we can create a pain-free and positive long-lasting relationship with our oral health.

Dr Lisa Creaven (Wooduay Dental ) is holding a free information coffee morning for parents and children on September 25 to discuss ways of preventing disease and decay in children in a fun and friendly environment. All are welcome.

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