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Children’s dentistry: How to help your kids prevent tooth decay

Many parents find it difficult to time judge how much dental care their kids need. They know they want to prevent rotting teeth and cavities, but they don’t always know the best way to do so. Here are some tips on children’s dentistry and how best to prevent tooth decay.

What is tooth decay?

Tooth decay is a diet-related disease that damages teeth. Tooth decay, otherwise known as dental caries, happens when germs in the mouth create a sticky covering called plaque on the tooth surface. These germs feed on sugars in food and drinks and produce an acid that damages the tooth surface. Over time, this acid eats away at the surface of the tooth, creating holes or ‘cavities’.

Tooth decay can cause pain and infection. It can even affect children’s growth. Severe decay in baby teeth can have serious consequences for your child’s nutrition, speech and jaw development.

The longer tooth decay is left untreated, the more your child will experience:

  • pain and discomfort
  • a higher risk of new decay in other baby and adult teeth
  • more complicated and expensive treatment
  • anxiety when they visit a dentist
  • loss of time at school.

How to prevent tooth decay in children

The best way to prevent cavities in your child is to teach good oral hygiene. We know parents hate to feel like they have to police their efforts, but it’s important to closely monitor your child as they brush and floss their teeth. Make sure they know the proper technique, and that they brush for the recommended amount of time.

They should brush their teeth twice a day and floss at least once a day. The more effective order is to floss before brushing. Also, make sure you schedule dental appointments every 6 months. Parents of younger babies: Don’t forget about infant oral care! Even if your baby doesn’t have teeth, their mouth still has germs.

Wipe their gums with a soft cloth after each feeding, and gently brush their teeth twice a day with a pea-sized amount of child-friendly fluoride toothpaste.

If your child has a sweet tooth, offer healthier alternatives to satisfy their cravings and maintain good dental health. Alternatives to cake, ice cream, cookies, or sweets include:

  • low glycaemic fruits (blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries)
  • trail mix, with nuts
  • yoghurt
  • frozen bananas
  • cheese sticks
  • unsweetened applesauce
  • dried fruits with no sugar added
  • carrots and hummus
  • muesli bars


Extensive research supports the safety and benefits of fluoride in preventing tooth decay. In most parts of Australia, tap water is treated and contains fluoride, making it a healthy choice for teeth. Tap water that has been boiled and cooled will still contain fluoride, so is beneficial for babies when used in the formula. Tap water can be offered to children from six months of age and should be the main drink for all children from 12 months old.

The use of fluoride toothpaste is important in preventing tooth decay. The type of fluoride toothpaste used will depend on the child’s age and their risk of developing dental decay. It is important to discuss this with a dental professional.

If you have any further questions about preventing tooth decay in your child, the friendly team at Carine Glades Dental Care would be happy to chat. Contact us today on (08) 9448 3922 or find us online here.

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