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Tooth decay in young children is a nightmare for many parents. Yet, many young kids do get cavities in their milk teeth, and sometimes they get a lot of them.

Ask a dentist, and they'll probably tell you that brushing teeth regularly and not eating sugar-rich foods are the keys to preventing early childhood caries. What else can you do to care for your children's teeth?

It's quite likely that you're reading this because your child already has cavities and you want to know what to expect from dental work and how to prevent further cavities later on. If so, you're not alone. My son developed cavities at a young age, and we so happen to live in a country without adequate dental care for young kids. Much of what I'm about to write didn't benefit my son. If you're in the same situation, these tips can still help you prevent future tooth decay.

1. Captain Obvious AKA as brush teeth .

We'll get this bit of advice out of the way first, because everyone already knows about it. Babies need their teeth to be cleaned as soon as they have them (see: When will your baby start teething?) , and especially after they have started solid foods. Once a baby has more teeth and they start moving closer together, flossing is also important. What should you brush your child's teeth with? I personally concluded that a xylitol toothpaste we use Chicco's was more likely to be beneficial than fluoride.

2. Night-time feeding?

Don't let your baby fall asleep with a bottle in their mouth, unless of course you are going to clean their teeth while asleep. The medical community is divided about the consequences of night-time breastfeeding. When my son developed cavities, he was still breastfed and I looked into this. There is plenty of evidence that breast milk by itself does not cause cavities, but if you're going to breastfeed through the night, you are creating a great environment for bacteria if there are ANY other food particles in the mouth. So again, brush the teeth thoroughly. Some sources also say that teeth need remineralization (aided by saliva) during the night, and that breast milk could prevent teeth from remineralizing. This is a bit of an alternative view, but you may want to consider it.

3. Nutrition.

Processed foods, such as white bread, candy, and chips are bad for your teeth. If your children are going to eat suspect foods, it's better to get them all done with in one large sitting rather than having exposure throughout the day. Sipping on juice constantly is worse than eating several large chocolate bars one after the other, tooth wise. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies may contribute to dental cavities. Look into the connection between Vitamin D deficiencies and dental problems.

4. Inspect your children's teeth regularly.

Why? On the more obvious level, it is better to catch beginning cavities rather than discovering them a a later stage. They are easier to fix that way. Inspecting your own teeth can be hard, but when it comes to your children's teeth the dentist really doesn't see anything more than you do... as long as you look.

  • Photo courtesy of stimpson jake:
  • Photo courtesy of stimpson jake:

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