Tips to Avoid Tooth Decay
What causes Tooth Decay?
Several specific types of bacteria that live on the teeth cause decay. When sugar is consumed, the bacteria use the sugar and then manufacture acids which cause break down of the tooth structure. Every time someone eats, an acid reaction occurs inside their mouth as the bacteria digests the foods. This reaction last approximately 20 minutes. During this time the acid environment can destroy the tooth structure, eventually leading to cavities.
How Do I Prevent Cavities?
- Good oral hygiene removes bacteria and the left over food particles that combine to create cavities.
- For infants, use a wet gauze or clean washcloth to wipe the plaque from teeth and gums. Avoid putting your child to bed with a bottle filled with anything other than water.
- For older children, brush their teeth at least twice a day.
- Limit frequency of meals and snacks – eliminate grazing throughout the day
- Be mindful of acidic and sugary drinks – juices, energy drinks and citrus beverages
- Avoid sticky foods and candies
- Make treats or dessert part of meals
- Choose nutritious snacks
- Routine visits to a dentist will also start your child on a lifetime of good dental health.
What is Early Childhood Decay?
Babies who go to bed with a bottle of milk, formula or juice are more likely to get tooth decay. Because the sugar in formula, milk or juice stays in contact with the teeth for a long time during the night, the teeth can decay quickly.
Some Tips to Avoid Early Childhood Tooth Decay
- Put your child to bed with a bottle of plain water, not milk or juice (or no bottle at all)
- Try not to let your child walk around using a bottle of milk or juice as a pacifier
- Do not dip your child’s pacifier in honey or sugar