Protecting your child's teeth
Establishing good eating habits by limiting sugary snacks and drinks can help your child avoid tooth decay. Regular visits to the dentist at an early age should also be encouraged.
It's important to teach your child how to clean their teeth properly and regularly. Your dentist can show you how to do this. Younger children should use a children's toothpaste, but make sure to read the label about how to use it.
Children should still brush their teeth twice a day, especially before bedtime.
How plaque causes tooth decay
Your mouth is full of bacteria that form a film over the teeth called dental plaque.
When you consume food and drink high in carbohydrates – particularly sugary foods and drinks – the bacteria in plaque turn the carbohydrates into energy they need, producing acid at the same time.
If the plaque is allowed to build up, the acid can begin to break down (dissolve) the surface of your tooth, causing holes known as cavities.
Once cavities have formed in the enamel, the plaque and bacteria can reach the dentine (the softer, bone-like material underneath the enamel). As the dentine is softer than the enamel, the process of tooth decay speeds up.
Without treatment, bacteria will enter the pulp (the soft centre of the tooth that contains nerves and blood vessels). At this stage, your nerves will be exposed to bacteria, usually making your tooth painful.
The bacteria can cause a dental abscess in the pulp and the infection could spread into the bone, causing another type of abcess.
Have a look at our blogg on how to maintain a clean and healthy mouth