Seven great ways to protect your child’s tooth enamel
You might be surprised to know that tooth enamel is not only the hardest substance in the body, but also harder than steel. Then why, you might ask, do you need to worry about protecting your child’s tooth enamel? The answer is that although enamel is extremely hard, it’s also quite brittle and hence quite vulnerable to the effects of sugar, acids and bacteria. And when tooth enamel breaks down due to these substances, it’s not able to effectively protect your child’s teeth from decay and cavities.
Here, then, are seven ways you can help protect your child’s tooth enamel and with it the health of your child’s teeth.
1. Select Soft
Just as most dentists recommend soft toothbrushes for adults, virtually all pediatric dentists recommend soft toothbrushes for children. The simple reason: it’s much gentler on sensitive teeth and gums. Hard bristles can actually wear down your child’s tooth enamel while also damaging their gums.
2. Do Dairy
Another fact that might surprise you is that dairy products are dental super foods. Why? Because dairy neutralizes the acids that can damage tooth enamel. Dairy is also a great source of casein, which is a very effective enamel protector. The healthiest dairy choices for your child’s snacks include low-fat cheese and nonfat Greek yogurt.
3. Stop Starch
Starchy foods like potato chips, tortilla chips, French fries and white bread are not only not ideal for your child’s overall health, they’re also bad for your child’s tooth enamel. The simple but frightening reason: starch quickly metabolizes into sugar.
4. Shun Sugar
Sugar is a breeding ground for bacteria that loves to eat away at tooth enamel, so it’s very important that you minimize your child’s consumption of sugary soft drinks, candy, and cereals. And many other foods you might think of as relatively healthy have a lot more sugar than you might think, including fruit juice, sports drinks, chocolate milk, ketchup, canned soups and fruits, protein bars and bottled smoothies.
5. Rinse and Repeat
In addition to flossing, having your child swish cool water around in her or his mouth for about 20 seconds after a meal is a great – and even fun – way to help remove food debris from in between teeth.
6. Floss Frequently
Did you know that brushing only covers about 1/3 of your child’s (and your) total tooth surface area? This means that about 2/3 of your child’s teeth aren’t being cleaned nearly well enough. That’s important, because the debris that brushing can’t remove from in between your child’s teeth can cause plaque buildup and cavities. So begin flossing your child’s teeth daily as soon as he or she has two teeth touching each other. Many dental product companies market several child-friendly flossing products.
7. Keep Away from Whitening Toothpastes
If you think whitening toothpastes don’t make sense for your child, you’re right. Their abrasive ingredients act like sandpaper on young teeth, wearing down the enamel and leaving the teeth much more prone to cavities. Instead, have your child use toothpastes that contain fluoride, which strengthens enamel rather than wearing it down.