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How to Prevent Tooth Decay in Children

A girl showing where her baby tooth has fallen out

According to Public Health England, tooth decay is the most common oral disease found in children, and ironically, one of the most preventable. Although efforts are being made, almost a quarter of five year olds in England have tooth decay!

Whilst dentists can help diminish the effects, tooth decay prevention definitely starts at home. We’re going to talk you through some easy steps that could help your child avoid tooth decay, and generally improve their oral health.



mother and daughter brushing teeth together in front of a mirror

Make brushing fun

You can start brushing your baby’s teeth as soon as that first milk tooth appears, using just a smear of children’s fluoride toothpaste. Babies and toddlers are known for being notoriously fussy when it comes to brushing, but there are definitely ways to get them into a good habit!

As soon as they’re old enough, you should let them pick out their own toothbrush. From Peppa Pig to Mickey Mouse, the choices are endless.

Another idea is to let them pick a song when it’s time to brush. This will not only make brushing fun for your child, it will also keep them occupied for at least 2 minutes (the length of time that should be spent on brushing). The NHS even has an app which plays 2 minutes of your own music, so you can make sure that you and your child brush for the right amount for time!



a combination of pick and mix sweets

Reduce their ‘free’ sugar intake

This may seem massively obvious, but sugar is the number one culprit of tooth decay in children. But it’s not just any sugar that can lead to tooth erosion—free sugar is the problem. This includes sugar that has been added to our food or drink, as well as sugar found in the likes of honey and fruit juice. The reason it is known as free sugar is because it’s not contained within the cells of the food or drink that we’re eating. Unlike sugar found in unblended fruits, the sugar is able to directly target our teeth and damage tooth enamel.

If you want your child to get some of the nutrients found in fresh orange juice, it might be better to chop up some oranges instead! And if your child loves lollipops, make sure to opt for sugar-free ones.



boy sitting in dental chair listening to female dentist holding toothbrush and tooth model explaining oral hygiene rules

Make sure they have regular dental check ups

Familiarising your child with the dentist at a young age is very important, which is why you should book an appointment as soon as their first tooth surfaces. Visiting the dentist is often an unsettling experience first time round, so getting your child used to it at a young age will hopefully help them to avoid dental-related anxiety.

Also, making sure they have a regular check up—ideally every six months—will ensure that their oral hygiene is on top form, and hopefully prevent any tooth decay from setting in.


See how we can help

Hopefully some of these tips will help protect your child’s teeth from an early age. As well as cosmetic and adult dentistry, we also offer specialist children’s care here at GDC Liverpool. To find out more about the services we have to offer, get in touch today by filling in our online contact form, or phone us on 0151 722 3000.


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