Did you know that 50% of 6 year olds have decay in their baby teeth, and 48% of 12 year olds have experienced decay in their permanent adult teeth? (AIHW 2014)
While it does seem a common part of life, dental decay is entirely preventable, and parents should not expect tooth decay in their children as an inevitability.
Research has shown that dental decay in childhood is a predictor for dental disease in later life, and that if dental decay can be avoided in childhood then it is likely to be avoided or significantly reduced in adulthood.
Health Partners Dentists recommend the following top tips to reduce tooth decay in kids:
1. Start brushing your children’s teeth from when they first appear in the mouth. Teeth normally start erupting from about 6 months of age. For babies you should use a soft toothbrush with no toothpaste, and then from the age of 18 months until about 6 years old, children’s toothpaste can be used.
2. Encourage children to brush twice daily and don't forget that children will need help with brushing and flossing until they are about 8 years of age.
3. Give your kids a healthy diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and limit their intake of sugary foods and drinks.
4. Encourage your kids to drink more fluoridated water and limit their intake of sugary acidic drinks such as soft drinks, and sports drinks. Acidic drinks like orange juice can wear down the enamel on teeth, you can use a straw which can reduce the impact on teeth, as well as encouraging kids to rinse their mouths with water afterwards. It’s also best to avoid brushing teeth directly after consuming acidic drinks and this can wear down enamel further.
5. Maintain regular appointments with your dentist. While good oral hygiene is important, it doesn’t rule out the need for regular appointments with your dentist. Your dentist can discuss individual concerns and provide information that is specific to your child regarding the changes that can occur in a growing mouth. Your dentist can also work with you to develop a dental health plan focusing on long term oral health, disease prevention and treatment planning. We recommend that you book your child in for their first dental visit around their 1st Birthday.
Resource: AIHW 2015 - Oral health and dental care in Australia Key facts and figures 2015, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare