This week’s blog will finish our 3 part series giving an overview about children’s teeth. We have already covered topics such as when to take children to the dentist, tooth brushing, toothbrushes and toothpaste. Now let’s discuss tooth decay and toothache.
So what is tooth decay?
In very simple terms tooth decay is the softening of a tooth by the bacteria in our mouths. These bacteria use acids and sugars from our diet to do this. You may have heard of it being referred to as dental caries or dental decay.
A build-up of plaque on our teeth can also lead to tooth decay. As the tooth softens it exposes the nerves of the tooth causing us pain spontaneously, sometimes when eating or drinking and it will discolour our teeth.
How to prevent tooth decay?
The main cause of tooth decay is sugar and acids from our diet. Many people think that it is the amount of sugar that causes tooth decay but this is incorrect. More than the amount it is HOW OFTEN the sugars and acids are consumed. The more frequently sugars and acids are consumed the more likely it is that teeth will decay.
The example that we give our patients is a bar of chocolate. It is much better for your child to eat the whole bar at once so that he/she only has 1 attack on their teeth, rather than spreading that bar throughout the day. If spread throughout the day then every time the chocolate is eaten it causes a separate attack on your child’s teeth.
All children want to have chocolate or sugary foods and drinks but our top tips are:
- Only give children sugary foods or drinks at mealtimes
- Rather than jelly sweets, give children chocolate. It is less likely to get stuck around their teeth.
- Rather than sugary juices where sugar has been added to the drink, try to give them pure juices such as apple or orange juice.
- Make snacks sugar free for example vegetables of fruit. Any foods that contain natural sugars are okay, it is added sugars that cause decay.
Our teeth are typically designed to withstand 3-4 attacks a day. That’s breakfast, lunch, dinner with perhaps 1 snack between. Any additional intakes of sugar will tip the scales towards causing decay.
Also it is just as important to ensure that teeth are being brushed 2 times a day but especially before bed so that any food and plaque that has developed on your child’s teeth can be removed.
Sometimes we don’t know that the foods and drinks that we give our children can harm their teeth. Always read the labels and if you see sugar or any other form of sugar such as fructose, lactose etc on the ingredients list, then try to avoid these foods as snacks.
If you’d like to discuss any of this further then please book an examination with one of our dentists who will be more than happy to analyse your child’s diet and advise appropriately.
Toothache in your child
The most common cause of toothache in children is still decay. If your child has decay they may suddenly avoid eating or drinking cold foods or sweet foods. They may cry when they eat. It is best in this case to take your child to your dentist for a check up to rule out any signs of decay.
Another major cause of toothache is teething. Our poor babies can start teething as early as 4 months and it can continue until their last baby teeth come out at 2 years! Try to give them hard foods to chew on such as cold carrot sticks to encourage the teeth to come out and to relieve some of the pain on their gums. You can use topical gels or sugar free medicines such as paracetamol to relieve their pain or any other related symptoms such as fevers.
For more advice please give us a call and we’ll be more than happy to see you or your children at Platinum Dental Care. Our friendly staff will aim to make your children’s dental appointments as fun as possible. Call us on 02075311717 or email us at email@example.com
I hope you have found this blog useful,, we’d love to hear some feedback from you and we look forward to seeing you soon.