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Causes of Tooth Decay in Children & Ways to Protect Teeth From Cavities| Does Fluoride Toothpaste Help Prevent Dental Cavities?

Teeth or your dental setting is a very important part of the human body. Issues related to teeth or dental system can cause a lot of pain, problem in daily activities like eating and chewing and can also deter your appearance and hence affect your confidence to a great extent. This article discusses the causes of tooth decay in children, how to protect teeth from cavities and if fluoride toothpaste help prevent dental cavities.

Tooth problems are common amongst all age groups. However, children face a major problem of tooth decay and other dental issues. This is a problem that has been prevalent for a long time now but has become more prevalent and gained more attention in the current times. Parents and caregivers, hence, must have a clear idea about the elements that can cause tooth decay and cavities amongst children and the ways to prevent the same.

Causes of Tooth Decay in Children

Causes of Tooth Decay in Children

Seeing your child suffer from tooth decay and resulting pain can be a disturbing experience. This can be a problem that can also affect their growth, as children often face problem with chewing food. This, as a result, will clearly reduce their food intake. Hence, you must have a clear idea that what are the trigger points that can affect your child’s dental system in an adverse manner.

Studies have reported that dental carries is the most common infectious disease during childhood, mainly caused by the interaction of Streptococcus mutans and sugary foods in the enamel.1

Poor Oral Hygiene: This is one of the most important causes of tooth decay in children. Brushing your teeth in a proper manner is really important to get rid of food particles, germs, and bacteria that develops in your mouth and gets stuck in between teeth. All these elements together form plaque and settle in the dental cavities. This, at later stages can lead to dental problems such as tooth decay and cavities. This is one of the aspects that results due to negligence of oral hygiene and not taking proper dental care. Caregivers and parents must also remember that children need to brush their teeth at least twice a day, once in the morning soon after getting up from sleep and at night before going to bed.

Too Much of Sweets as a Factor Responsible for Tooth Decay in Children: Children must abstain from eating excessive sweets and chocolates. This is not just due to the sugar element present in them but also due to the fact that these type of foods happens to be quite sticky and sticks to the teeth in a stubborn manner. Avoiding them can be a good way of staying away from cavities.

Less Saliva: Less salivation or dryness of mouth too is one of the common causes of tooth decay in children. Saliva in your mouth acts as a protecting element that fights against tooth decay and cavities. If you feel that your child does not salivate properly and has a really dry mouth then this can be a situation that will lead to tooth decay.

Improper Washing of Mouth after Eating: Improper washing or cleaning of mouth during the day is one of the common causes of tooth decay in children. Only brushing twice a day is not enough to keep your teeth healthy. You must remember that your child’s mouth has to be rinsed every time they eat anything. This could be a mere biscuit but not rinsing the mouth soon after eating can lead to food particles to remain in the mouth that can lead to plaque formation.

Stomach Problems cause Tooth Decay in Children: Often too much stomach problems like gastric irritation and vomiting can lead to dental problems such as tooth decay and cavities. Acid regurgitation or water brash can be one of the causes of tooth decay in children. Empty stomach for long stretches can also lead to dental problems.

How to Protect Teeth From Cavities?

How to Protect Teeth From Cavities?

Prevention is always better than cure. This is so true when it comes to children. Instead of seeing them in pain as a parent or a caregiver, it is far better to be proactive and prevent the factors that can cause tooth decay.

If you are wondering how to protect teeth from cavities, here are few points to note.

Brush the Teeth under Guidance: It is important that parents and caregivers must ensure that children brush their teeth regularly at least twice a day and supervise their way of cleaning the teeth. This is one of the most important habits that can help your child keep cavities at bay. It is important that you do oversee and help your child at the time of brushing so that the process is done in a proper manner. This is a practice that needs to be followed until the child is a minimum of eight years of age as that help protect teeth from cavities. You must also practice this habit yourself so that the child can imitate your good habit and develop a proper routine of dental cleaning.

Proper Oral Hygiene throughout the Day: It is important that other oral hygiene steps are also observed with the child throughout the day. Just brushing the teeth twice is never enough. In order to ensure that food particles do not stay in the mouth, the child must wash and rinse his or her mouth soon after eating any food. This is a process that must also be overseen by the parents and the caregivers.

Avoid Sugary Foods to Prevent Cavity: It is advisable that certain type of food elements must be avoided. Food with high sugar content must be abstained from so that sticky food can be avoided. It is also very important that the child is fed at regular intervals to protect teeth from cavities due to avid regurgitation. Secretion of acids happening in an empty stomach can be highly detrimental for your child’s dental health, hence best prevented.

Clean Mouth even before Teeth appears: Often parents think of washing their child’s mouth soon after the child’s teeth appear. This is a mistake. Parents must remember to take a moist soft cloth even when their children do not have teeth and clean their gums to wipe off germs and bacteria. This is another best way to protect teeth from cavities.

Use Fluoride Toothpaste: Fluoride toothpaste can be used for cleaning the teeth of children. However, this type of toothpaste is recommended for children above two years. Also, check the quality and control sign applicable as per the country, best is to seek expert’s advice.

Visit Dentists Regularly to Prevent Dental Cavities: It is important that you do check your child’s teeth by dentists at regular intervals. Do not wait for a problem to occur, instead plan regular dental check-ups proactively.

Does Fluoride Toothpaste Help Prevent Dental Cavities?

Your teeth have six layers. The outer most layer is known as enamel. This is a quite familiar term these days. Enamel is the layer that often gets affected by caries or cavities. In this case, food and germs stick to the outer layer of the teeth and produce bacteria which can erode your enamel. Once the enamel is damaged, the germs can affect the blood and the inner layers of the teeth. This can cause a lot of pain. So, does fluoride toothpaste help prevent dental cavities?

Fluoride toothpaste can be used to protect the enamel and restore the minerals that have been eroded from the affected tooth. Experts suggest the use of fluoride toothpaste as they can effectively strengthen the teeth and offer best protection from tooth decay.2

This is why it is said that fluoride toothpaste can be used for brushing the teeth of your child. It is however important to get the dose of fluoride right in young children as there is a risk that they may swallow the toothpaste. Hence, the quantity required for brushing should be adjusted as per the age. Also children should be taught to brush properly and spit out the toothpaste. Parents must oversee the whole process so that the children do not swallow the toothpaste. Fluoride toothpaste can help to restore the tooth decay and cavities within a certain span of time. But if children are taking fluoride supplements, then such toothpaste may not be needed. Hence, an expert’s opinion must be taken in this respect.


Clearly, appropriate dental and oral care is one of the most imperative responsibilities of the parents or caregivers of children. This is how they can help their children have a good dental structure that will be carried to the later stages of their life. While there are various causes of tooth decay in children, there are many ways to protect teeth from cavities. Proper oral hygiene must be followed at all stages to protect teeth from cavities. Prevention is better than cure and this is applicable even for your child’s teeth. Fluoride toothpaste does help to prevent dental cavities and must be used, if advised.


Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 11, 2019

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