Dr Nita Pai BDS (Adel), MDS (Adel)
Dr Caroline Chung BDS, MDS
Avoiding decay involves following a strict oral hygiene regimen-brushing and flossing twice a day, regular dental check ups, diet control, fissure sealing and fluoride treatment.
Brushing and flossing
Begin tooth cleaning as soon as the teeth appear. A clean soft gauze towel or a clean dry wash cloth can be used to remove plaque bacteria that can lead to decay. Once a child has back teeth, a small head soft toothbrush specially designed for babies can be used to clean the grooves on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (molars). This should be done twice a day.
Regular dental checkups
The Australasian Academy of Paediatric Dentistry recommends a dental check up at least twice a year. Some children however, might require more frequent visits because of special risk factors for tooth decay and problems with oral hygiene.
- Nursing at will during the night while co-sleeping and milk bottles at bedtime are both prime causes of Early Childhood Caries.
- Avoid frequent exposures to sugar. Teeth need at least a two-hour rest period between snacks/meals.
- Sweet foods are best given at meal times when there is more saliva produced, rather than between meals. Saliva helps neutralise the effects of acid.
- Cheese at the end of the meal also helps neutralise acid.
- Avoid sticky forms of sugar such as dried apricots, sultanas, roll ups, lollies, etc.
- Liquid forms of sugar are less harmful than sticky forms of sugar.
- Encourage your child to drink tap water rather than cordial or juice.
Research has shown that fissure sealants can prevent formation of cavities significantly. Sealants are a protective coating applied on the chewing surfaces of your child’s back teeth. Fissure sealants should be routinely applied to the first permanent molars (six year old molars) and the second permanent molars.
Fluoride is one of the most cost effective, safe and proven ways to prevent tooth decay. Sydney tap water is fluoridated. Encourage your child to drink tap water and use age appropriate fluoridated toothpaste. Fluoride must be used wisely as too much fluoride whilst teeth are developing can cause fluoros.