Tooth decay is a disease that is caused by bacteria and damages or breaks down the enamel of our teeth. Our enamel is the strong, outer layer of our teeth that provides the best protection against the harmful acids that are present in our mouths.
When a child eats or drinks, bacteria in our mouth feed on the sugars that are found in these foods and drinks. The bacteria then create acids that break down or weaken the enamel layer. Each time your child eats or drinks, that acid can attack their teeth for 20 minutes or longer. Over time, that acid will erode enough tooth structure away to develop a hole or cavity in their tooth.
Here are some things you can do to help prevent or minimize these acid attacks:
-rinse with water after meals and snacks
-try to limit eating to 3-4 meals a day; do not graze
-don’t let your child constantly sip on liquids or juice with a high sugar content (ie…high fructose corn syrup)
-if thirsty between meals/snacks, offer water
-if your child does eat sweets, make sure it is with a meal where increased saliva will help neutralize the acids
-brush teeth twice a day, especially before bed to remove the harmful bacteria and sugars
-floss your child’s teeth once a day to reach the areas that their toothbrush cannot reach