Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body and is vitally important for protecting your child’s teeth from decay. Although durable, it can crack, chip or erode over time, even in children. This is why it’s important for parents to actively take steps to protect their child’s tooth enamel. So, what can you do to keep your child’s smile healthy? Keep reading!
- Limit Soda and Juice
Sugar in soda and juice exposes teeth to bacteria and acid which causes tooth enamel to lose minerals. In children, a white spot on a tooth is often the first sign that minerals have been lost and enamel is eroding. This is an early sign of decay. Over time, the enamel continues to weaken until it is destroyed. This is when a cavity sets in. By reducing intake of bacteria-producing beverages, you can go a long way towards protecting your child’s enamel – the first line of defense against decay. Instead, offer water, especially after meals to wash away some of the food that can promote enamel-damaging bacteria and acid. It’s important to note that most bottled water doesn’t contain sufficient fluoride to prevent tooth enamel erosion and decay. If your child drinks only bottled water, it’s important to talk with your dentist about supplemental fluoride.
- No Chomping on Ice
Many kids enjoy the cold, crunchy sensation of chewing on a piece of ice. The problem is the hardness of ice can cause tooth enamel to chip and crack. In these areas of weakness, decay can start. If your child has a fondness for ice, switch to crushed, slushy ice instead of cubes or chips.
- Avoid Whitening Toothpastes
Because whitening toothpastes have strong abrasives that can wear down tooth enamel, they are not a good idea for kids. A better option is a child-friendly toothpaste which has the ADA’s seal of approval. Not only are children’s toothpastes less abrasive than those with whitening agents, they also are available in flavors that kids prefer.
- Ditch the Hard Bristle Toothbrushes
While it’s important to encourage regular toothbrushing, you don’t want your child damaging tooth enamel with a hard nylon-bristle toothbrush. A better option is a toothbrush with flexible, rubber bristles that can thoroughly clean teeth and gums while protecting tooth enamel.
- Consider Dental Sealants
Dental sealants can also help protect enamel by coating chewing surfaces of the back teeth. Because food and bacteria can get stuck in the uneven surfaces of molars, they can collect if toothbrush bristles can’t easily brush them away. Sealants cover these surfaces to form a protective barrier to prevent food and bacteria from collecting and protect tooth enamel.
Of course, it’s also important to schedule regular dental cleanings and examinations. With a multi-prong approach to protecting your child’s tooth enamel, you are ensuring a healthy, bright smile for many, many years to come.