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Weymouth Street Paediatric Dentistry, 33 Weymouth Street, London, W1G 7BY

The health of your child’s teeth and gums is important to you as a parent. Unfortunately, the bacteria in children’s mouths can make them vulnerable to tooth decay, which is among the most common childhood diseases. Tooth decay is a condition in which enamel, the thin outer layer of a tooth, deteriorates. Decay, if left untreated, can result in cavities: damaged areas in the teeth with tiny holes/openings.

A child’s primary teeth are usually weaker and more prone to cavities than an adult’s. Therefore, parents should be aware of the causes, symptoms, and preventative measures they can take to protect their children’s teeth.

What Causes Tooth Decay in Children?

An article published in the British Dental Journal in 2018 stated that one in four children in the UK suffer from tooth decay by the time they are five years old.

Children’s tooth decay is primarily caused by plaque that remains on teeth after eating sugars or starches; as a result of this bacteria in our mouths reacting with sugars in our food and drinks, an acid is produced that can wear away the enamel on teeth.

Baby bottles and on-demand breastfeeding are leading causes of dental decay among very young children. Early dental visits can assist in identifying these problems and hopefully prevent future dental problems.

How to Tell if Your Child Has Tooth Decay

Children with tooth decay typically exhibit the following signs:

What Can Be Done to Prevent Tooth Decay in Children?

Oral hygiene

Caring for your child’s teeth instils healthy habits and lays a solid foundation for their oral health. Tooth decay can be prevented by teaching children proper habits for protecting their teeth.


The manual dexterity and mental application of children under seven are insufficient to ensure effective brushing, so parents should brush for them. Brushing your child’s mouth properly is vital – make sure all areas are reached. Most suitable are toothbrushes with soft bristles and small heads; the shape and angle of the head are unimportant.

Brushing teeth as a preventative measure against tooth decay in children


Plaque and bacteria in-between teeth that cannot be reached with a toothbrush can only be removed by flossing. The bacteria and plaque between teeth cause cavity-causing acids in kids, which can be removed by flossing. By having your children floss regularly, they will increase blood supply to gum tissue, reducing the risk of cavities and gum disease.

Flossing every day can help prevent tooth decay in children


Most dentists today recommend fluoride supplementation only for children at high risk of decay – for example, those with decay in their milk teeth.

The use of fluoride toothpaste is one of the most important preventative measures against tooth decay in children. In many cases, fluoridated toothpaste and water provide children with sufficient fluoride.

In light of the most recent research, it is best for children to spit out toothpaste without rinsing; the more frequently children rinse, the faster fluoride is cleared from the mouth. By not rinsing, fluoride remains in the mouth longer and provides greater benefits.

Fissure sealants

Unlike fillings, which are restorative treatments, fissure sealants are preventative treatments for children.

The small grooves in the molars and premolars may be large enough to warrant fissure sealants. This protective plastic coating takes moments to apply and harden. The thin coating stops food and bacteria from going inside the tiny grooves, reducing the risk of tooth decay.

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 grooves which cannot be reached with a toothbrush.

Dietary considerations

Keeping your child’s teeth healthy requires not only effective oral hygiene routines, but also limiting their intake of sugary foods and sweet drinks:

  • Development of tooth decay is influenced more by frequency than quantity of sugar consumption;
  • As long as fluoride toothpaste is used twice daily, eating up to five times per day is acceptable;
  • Children should snack on cheese, vegetables, plain yoghurt or fruit between meals;
  • There is a greater risk of tooth decay if less healthy snacks or drinks with a lot of sugar are consumed in between meals. As soon as children consume sugary foods or drinks, their teeth are attacked by acids.

Are Some Children More Prone to Decay Than Others?

Yes. There are some children who are more susceptible to decay than others. It is possible for children in the same family to experience this. However, the only way to tell for sure is by the amount of decay present: children who have decay at age two are more likely to have problems with their permanent teeth in the future.

What to Do if Your Child’s Primary Teeth Are Decayed

If your child has tooth pain and is exhibiting signs of decay, schedule an appointment with our paediatric dentist. Dental problems become more severe over time when decayed teeth are left untreated, and treatment becomes more complex and costly as time goes on.

Make an appointment with the children’s dentist to have their cavities filled

It is recommended that you take your child to the paediatric dentist if decay has progressed to cavities. In primary teeth, dentists may fill cavities to keep them healthy until permanent teeth appear. A filling restores a tooth’s appearance, shape, and function.

During your child’s visit to Weymouth Street Paediatric Dentistry, we assess decay, fill cavities if required, and educate on proper oral hygiene.

Ask your paediatric dentist about fluoride supplements

The most common forms of fluoride supplements are drops, tablets, or vitamins. Their use is appropriate for children who are at risk of tooth decay due to a family history or other factors. Our dosage recommendations depend on the results of an oral health examination.

Fluoride supplementation can reduce decay susceptibility by about 50% in children who are more prone to the disease.

Contact Our Children’s Dentists Today

We are here and ready to assist with treating tooth decay at Weymouth Street Paediatric Dentistry. If you have any concerns about the oral health of your child, contact us, and we can schedule a consultation.

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