Skip links

How to prevent tooth decay in children

child at the dentist
child at the dentist

Recent data has indicated that tooth decay in children remains a serious problem, with reports revealing that three in ten children in England have enamel or tooth decay, with an average of three to four teeth affected. 

And if a child’s teeth are left untreated, it is highly likely that the tooth decay will get worse, eventually leading to severe pain, difficulty eating or chewing, damaged or broken teeth, or in severe cases, tooth loss. 

With this data highlighting a severe crisis, Dr Parneet Sehmi, Principal Dentist at Hermes London Dental Clinic, is advising his best practices to help parents prevent tooth decay in children, by providing them with the knowledge they need to spot the early warning signs of tooth decay. 

Dr Sehmi warns: “Over the years, we have seen a sharp increase in children suffering from tooth decay, typically in children between the ages of 5-9.

“Tooth decay can have a serious impact on children’s ability to eat, not to mention the pain and sensitivity of their teeth affecting their wellbeing. If left untreated, it can escalate to far more serious dental issues, such as cavities and dental abscesses – which will require urgent treatment to fix.”

What is tooth decay in children?

First and foremost, what is tooth decay in children? Tooth decay is the breakdown or destruction of tooth enamel (the hard outer surface of a tooth), which can ultimately cause cavities (holes in the teeth).  These cavities can get bigger over time, especially if they are left untreated. If the cavity reaches deep within a tooth, where the nerve endings are, it can then cause a significant amount of pain and sensitivity.

What causes tooth decay in a child?

Tooth decay in children is incredibly common and can be a sign of poor dental hygiene, oral health, and overall diet. Typical signs of tooth decay include the formation of yellow, brown, or black staining on the surface of the tooth towards the gum line or in more severe cases, complete discolouration of the teeth. 

Tooth decay is caused by the combination of food, acid, bacteria, and saliva forming plaque that then sticks to a tooth’s surface. Over time, these acids eat away at the tooth enamel, resulting in cavities.

Which children are at risk for tooth decay?

As all children have bacteria present in their mouth, every child is at risk of developing tooth decay however, here are some of the higher risk factors that you should be aware of:

  • A diet that is high in sugars and starches
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Not drinking enough water 
  • Less saliva flow than normal

How to prevent tooth decay?

child healthy teeth

The good news is that there are lots of ways to prevent tooth decay in children including the following:

Use fluoride toothpaste

Brushing twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste that’s appropriate for your child’s age is one of the best ways to prevent tooth decay! Fluoride content is an important factor, as it helps to create a protective coat around the enamel of teeth – preventing damage from acid found in foods and drinks. 

Dr Sehmi advised: “While brushing your child’s teeth for two minutes at least twice a day is vital, I also recommend that you use fluoride toothpaste for an effective, deep clean.

“Using too little or too much toothpaste when brushing children’s teeth can also impact their oral health.”

Children between the ages of 18 months to six years should only have a pea-sized amount of children’s toothpaste with a low amount of fluoride. For children aged six and above, parents should use a pea-sized amount of standard fluoride toothpaste.

Flossing Daily

Once your child’s teeth have started to develop, you should be encouraging and introducing flossing as part of their oral hygiene regime. This is because daily flossing helps to remove plaque and food particles trapped between the teeth, which are often difficult to reach with brushing alone.  There’s lots of flossers available that have been specifically designed for children to use. 

Create a fun brushing routine

Keeping children interested in brushing their teeth correctly, and thoroughly, can be challenging. However, it is possible to make brushing a fun part of your child’s daily routine. 

Dr Sehmi said: “Parents need to try and keep their children engaged during brush time and set a good routine from an early age. Using an electric toothbrush with a built-in timer is one of the best ways to keep children brushing for long enough. But there are few other tricks parents can use.”

You should also consider using interactive apps or videos, which have a fun visualisation and sounds to keep children entertained, while helping with timings. For slightly older children, creating a reward system that tracks children’s brushing progress can be a fun way to keep children engaged. 

Monitor sugar intake

Aside from brushing, the best way to reduce the risk of tooth decay is to ensure children have a healthy and nutritious diet – as high-sugar foods corrode enamel and lead to cavities. 

Dr Sehmi said: “Sweets, chocolates, and carbonated drinks should always be limited, and balanced out with plenty of vegetables, dairy, and whole-grain foods. Also be mindful of fruits and fruit juices, as these can contain large quantities of natural sugar.

“For healthy teeth, look to water down fruit juices, and ensure children drink plenty of water after high-sugar foods to help clear their mouths of harmful sugars.”

Regular Dental Check-ups

Scheduling regular dental check-ups and cleanings every 6 month is key to keeping your child’s teeth as healthy as possible. Regular check-ups allow your dentist to monitor your child’s oral health and identify any potential problems early on.

Dr Sehmi said: “Dentists can identify any signs of tooth decay, or other dental conditions. They can also see how well children are doing with brushing and recommend techniques or useful tips to keep teeth healthy.”

Why choose Hermes London Dental Clinic?

Hermes London Dental Clinic is a general and cosmetic dentistry based in Victoria. With a friendly team of experienced staff, we are continually keeping up to date with the latest advances in the dental world. Maintaining high ethical standards, we provide a high standard of dentistry to all of our clients, including children. 

At Hermes London Dental Clinic, we understand just how important it is to maintain oral health from a young age and to start as you mean to go on. 

From your initial consultation until your dental treatment is complete, you will receive the very highest of care with 24/7 emergency support. Get in touch with a member of our professional, friendly and helpful team today!


Leave a comment