Many dentists often see parents and caregivers whose children have tooth decay, even though they know their child regularly brushes their teeth. It can be upsetting for both the child and parent, especially, knowing they have been taking care of their child’s teeth.
However, there is one important factor that is frequently overlooked which can make a huge difference to a child’s dental health. In addition to making sure your child regularly brushes their teeth, their diet needs to be watched as it plays a huge role in whether they enjoy good dental health.
Why Sugary Foods Create Cavities
The more frequently your child’s teeth are exposed to sugar, the greater the risk of tooth decay. Foods that are particularly bad for your child’s teeth include those that are very sticky such as dried fruit, chewing gum, toffees and sticky candies.
These types of foods tend to adhere to the teeth for longer and are often tricky to remove with a toothbrush. As a result, your child’s teeth will be bathed in sugar for hours to come. This is bad for their dental health as the bacteria in your child’s mouth use this intake of sugar to thrive and this ready food source will increase their numbers.
Acid Erosion and Why It Causes Cavities
As the bacteria thrive and multiply, they create acid and it’s this acid that causes the damage, a condition called acid erosion. High acidity levels in the mouth result in essential minerals being removed from your child’s tooth enamel, including phosphorus and calcium.
As these minerals are removed during a process called demineralization, the tooth enamel becomes softer and more vulnerable to decay. This process happens in adults as well, but is worse for children as their tooth enamel is naturally slightly softer. Thus, tooth decay can develop more easily and more quickly than in adult teeth.
Acidity levels remain high for half an hour to an hour after eating, but if your child has eaten something particularly sticky then this effect is prolonged.
If your kid has eaten something sweet or sticky, make sure they clean their teeth soon after eating. It is better to wait half an hour to an hour than to immediately brush their teeth. This gives the acidity levels in their mouth a chance to normalize, promoting a process called re-mineralization.
During re-mineralization some of the essential minerals that were removed during demineralization are redeposited back into the tooth enamel. This doesn’t undo all the damage caused by eating sugary foods, but it does mean that your child won’t be brushing their teeth while their tooth enamel is still slightly softer and easily eroded away.
Cutting down on Foods That Are Unhealthy for Your Child’s Teeth
It is only natural for children to gravitate towards sweet treats and many adults have exactly the same tastes. However, limiting access to unhealthy foods is unfortunately essential if your child is to grow up with strong and healthy teeth.
Introducing more tooth friendly foods, including fresh fruit that is naturally sweet can help to gradually retrain your kid’s taste buds. Fresh fruit is a far better option than dried fruit as it tends to have a high water content while crunchy fruits such as apples contain fiber, which has a slight scrubbing action on teeth.
Other good choices include individual portions of cheese that are designed to appeal to children and which will give them plenty of calcium assisting to harden their teeth. Eventually, you will find your child becomes more accustomed to eating healthier foods.
Hopefully, they will be less inclined to choose high sugar, salty or greasy foods. In addition to protecting their teeth, this diet will help protect their general health by making sure they choose foods that are more nutritious.
Talk to Your Child about the Importance of a Healthy Diet for Their Teeth
Rather than just preventing your child from eating their favorite foods, sit down with them. Explain why their diet is so important for their dental health, not to mention for their general health.
Prohibiting all sugary foods could have the effect of making them seem even more appealing. It’s easier for your child to understand that you’re not being mean if they know the reason for keeping these kinds of foods for an occasional treat.
The aim is to not prohibit all these types of foods but to make sure that they are eaten and enjoyed more responsibly. One good tip is to make sure your child enjoys their sweet treats as part of a main meal when less damage is likely to be caused to their teeth.
During the main meal, more saliva is produced which in turn helps to wash away sugary foods much quicker. After eating, encourage your child to drink plain water as this is another easy way to help wash away excess sugars, although, it’s no substitute for brushing and flossing.
Your Dentist Can Provide Customized Dietary Advice
A pediatric dentist can also help you and your child. They are specially trained in treating children and adolescents. He or she is excellent at relating to children and has a great way of explaining things to them in a way that is easy for them to understand.
Your pediatric dentist can talk to your child about their diet and even offer customized dietary advice that will be based on your child’s risk of tooth decay and their dental health. Sometimes it can be far easier for a child to accept this kind of information if it comes from a dental professional.
Teaching Your Child How to Brush and Floss Properly
As well as offering dietary advice, a pediatric dentist can also provide customized advice on brushing and flossing. They frequently work with children to teach them the proper way to look after their teeth. This can be particularly useful when it comes to flossing, as many people struggle with, including adults.
If looking for a great pediatric dentist, try Kids Dentistry Center they do far more than just provide checkups and dental treatment. Their friendly and very approachable dental team are always available to answer any questions you might have about your kid’s dental health.
March 03, 2017
March 03, 2017
Stories by Emma Kalman