Some children have more decay than others and are more susceptible to decay. This can be true of children in the same family. The only way we can tell is by the amount of decay present: those who have decay at the age of two are probably going to have more problems with their permanent teeth.
What can parents do about this? These children would probably benefit from extra fluoride, which can reduce their susceptibility to decay by about half. Fissure sealing may also be recommended for children whose teeth are ‘at risk’. This involves painting a plastic coating on the permanent molars. It is particularly useful for teeth with deep groves which cannot be reached with a toothbrush.
A new vaccine is being developed which could help make problems of tooth decay a thing of the past. The vaccine uses antibodies such as those in our immune system, which are grown in genetically engineered plants. It is painted onto the teeth.
Meanwhile, limiting the number of times children eat sugary foods or have sweet drinks, and brushing effectively are the main weapons against decay.
Children under seven do not have the manual dexterity or the mental application to brush effectively, so parents should do it for them. The technique is less important than the end result. What matters is that you reach all areas of the mouth. Use a small-headed brush with soft bristles. The shape and angle of the head are not important.
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