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The Rise in Tooth Decay in Children

The Rise in Tooth Decay in Children

The rise of tooth decay in children has increased dramatically in Australia in recent years. More than 2000 children aged under four are admitted to NSW hospitals every year for surgery on their decaying teeth. Furthermore, one in four children in Australia has untreated dental decay in their baby teeth. *

Although children will eventually lose their baby teeth, they are deemed just as important as permanent teeth. NSW Dental Association president Dr Sabrina Manicham highlights that "Baby teeth help children learn to chew and speak properly, and keep the correct spacing in their gums to let their permanent teeth erupt."

Tooth decay in young children has increased due to sugary drinks and snacks, as well as poor oral hygiene.

Brushing Tips for Kids:

  • Brush teeth twice daily – in the morning and always before bed

  • Brush for at least two minutes each time, making sure to brush all surfaces of your teeth

  • Parents should start brushing their baby’s teeth as soon as the first tooth erupts with a wet soft gauze to remove soft plaque. Once a few of the baby teeth have come through you can begin to use a soft children’s toothbrush.

  • From 18 months old, a children’s low fluoride toothpaste should be used until they are 6 years old. This is important as it has a lower dose of fluoride.

  • It is a good idea to start flossing your child’s teeth when the teeth begin to contact one another

  • Need further help? Use plaque disclosing tablets to help reveal where your kids might have missed brushing

Our Top Diet Tips to Help Avoid Tooth Decay:

  • Drink plain water throughout the day and limit other sugary drinks like fruit juice or cordial to special occasions

  • Try and limit snacking in between meals as this will give your saliva a break

  • Swish your mouth with water after eating and drinking, especially sugary or sticky food

  • If your child snacks throughout the day, ensure they are healthy, crunchy snacks.

  • Avoid putting a child to bed with a bottle containing anything other than water

  • Avoid dipping your child’s dummy in any foods or liquids

When to bring your child in for a visit with the dentist or oral health therapist

The recommended time for a “first dental check” is when teeth begin to come through or at 12 months old. From there, it is a good idea to bring your child back every 6-12 months so that they continue to be comfortable within the dental setting.

Your child’s regular periodic check-up and clean will involve an examination, scale and polish and fluoride treatment. During the exams, the practitioner may bring attention to any problems including tooth decay, and recommend any preventative treatment.

A Few Helpful Tips to Encourage your Child at the Dentist:

  • Use positive emotions and words about the dentist.

  • Avoid negative words or phrases such as “you shouldn’t be afraid” or “there’s nothing to be scared of”. Often it’s the new environment that children will be apprehensive about, and wording things in that way may instill a sense of fear about being there.

  • Schedule your appointment during a time of day when your child will be least fussy or tired.

  • Treat the appointment as a routine activity.

  • Reading stories can help explain who the dentist is and why you’re visiting them.

* Information devised from article from the Daily Telegraph, July 14, 2017 “More than 2000 children under gour admitted to NSW hospitals for tooth decay” by Clarissa Bye

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