How to prevent tooth decay in older children and young adults

How to prevent tooth decay in older children and young adults

Late childhood and early adulthood can be a tough time. Children this age begin to go through puberty, which makes them prone to mood swings and tantrums. They are also more susceptible to peer pressure at this age and may become withdrawn from their parents.

Given the challenges of late childhood and early adulthood, one extra thing you won’t want to worry is the health of your children’s teeth. The good news is that you can help ensure the health of your child’s teeth by following a few simple tips.


General tips to help prevent tooth decay in older children

  • Older children should brush their teeth twice a day (and of course, adults should do this too!). Make sure they brush once at night before going to bed, and once again in the morning. The toothpaste they use should contain fluoride at 1,350 ppm or above.
  • Tell your children to spit out the toothpaste after brushing and not to rinse their mouth. If your child rinses his or her mouth after brushing, it will wash away the fluoride and reduce the effect of the toothpaste.
  • Mouthwash is another common way to prevent plaque. While you shouldn’t give mouthwash to young children because they might swallow it, older children can be trusted to use mouthwash properly.
  • Older children can also be trusted to brush their teeth properly. However, you should supervise children aged ten and below to ensure they are removing all the bits of food from their mouth when they brush.
  • Don’t let your child eat sugary foods often. Ideally, you should limit these foods to mealtimes, as a dessert.
  • Your child should see the dentist regularly. This is because dentists can catch tooth decay early, and treat it before it gets worse. But how often should your child see the dentist? Well, appointments every six months are a good general rule. However, some children will need more appointments, while some children can get by with an appointment just once a year.
  • If you live in an area of the UK where the tap water is fluoridated, then encourage your child to drink tap water instead of bottled water. This is because fluoride helps to prevent tooth decay and makes teeth grow stronger. Bottled water, in contrast, usually doesn’t contain fluoride so it doesn’t provide these benefits.
  • The teenage years are often when people experiment with smoking and alcohol. Of course, we don’t need to tell you that cigarettes and alcohol are bad for your children’s oral hygiene. Smoking is the leading cause of mouth cancer and alcohol dehydrates the mouth, which encourages plaque to grow. Don’t be afraid to have a talk with your teenager about the dangers of drinking and smoking.
  • Be a model of good behaviour. Perhaps the best thing parents can do for the health of their children’s teeth is look after their own! When children see their parents brushing and flossing their own teeth, it sets a model of good behaviour and encourages them to take good care of their own oral health.

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