Almost all decay can be prevented, although some children are more susceptible than others.
The surfaces of the teeth are sites for continual deposits of plaque. Plaque consists of a combination of bacteria and salivary proteins which stick to the teeth. The bacteria in plaque ferment and produce acids from sugars and starches. These acids are capable of dissolving tooth enamel – and this produces dental decay. The longer plaque is allowed to remain on the teeth and the greater amount of sweets and sugars in the diet (particularly those consumed between meals), the more susceptible the teeth will be to decay.
Important: Children with an established chewing gum habit must be encouraged to chew sugarless gum.
Dental decay can be prevented in several ways:
- Brush and floss to remove plaque.
- Eliminate between-meal sugar snacks.
- Use fluorides to strengthen tooth enamel.
- See your dentist regularly.
- Avoid nursing bottle decay; don’t let your baby go to sleep with a bottle of milk, formula, juice or any sweet liquid. Clean your baby’s gums and teeth at least once a day.
- Ask your dentist about pit and fissure sealants.