When your child smiles, what you see is his or her tooth enamel, the visible white outer layer of the teeth. Enamel shields teeth from acid and bacteria that can cause plaque and can lead to cavities. Protecting your child’s tooth enamel is important to prevent dental problems.

How Enamel Can Become Damaged

When people consume sugary foods and beverages and don’t brush soon after, that sugar lingers on the teeth. Bacteria that are naturally present in the mouth, when combined with sugar, can lead to plaque. If the plaque is not removed through brushing, flossing, and professional cleanings, it can lead to cavities.

The best way to avoid this scenario is to limit the number of sugary foods and drinks your child consumes. That includes obvious culprits, such as cookies, cake, candy, and soda, as well as less obvious ones, such as bread, rice, juice, and sports drinks.

Foods and beverages with citric acid can also damage your child’s teeth. The acid can cause demineralization, which can erode the tooth enamel. If the process continues, it can cause damage to the dentin, the soft layer under the enamel, which can lead to sensitivity and pain. If your child consumes foods or beverages containing citric acid, have him or her rinse with water for 30 seconds to remove the acid.

How to Protect and Strengthen Your Child’s Tooth Enamel

Foods and drinks that contain calcium, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, can strengthen your child’s tooth enamel. Calcium can neutralize the acid and help to remineralize teeth. If your child is unable to consume dairy products, look for other foods that naturally contain calcium or that have been enriched. Check labels when you go grocery shopping.

Regular brushing and flossing can protect your child’s tooth enamel from damage. Dentists recommend brushing for two minutes twice a day and flossing once a day. A toothpaste that contains fluoride can remineralize teeth.

Start brushing your baby’s teeth as soon as they erupt and begin flossing when two teeth touch each other. If your child is older, he or she may not be coordinated enough to brush and floss correctly. You can certainly let your child try, but you should also do it yourself to make sure the teeth get clean. Ask your pediatric dentist for advice on how to brush and floss your child’s teeth, which toothbrush and toothpaste to use, and ways to make those experiences fun, rather than stressful, for your child.

Take Your Child to the Dentist

All children should visit a pediatric dentist by the age of 1. That can allow the dentist to spot any problems early and to provide helpful advice on nutrition and oral hygiene. It can also help your child get comfortable with the people and the environment. Continue to take your child to the dentist for exams and cleanings. If your child is due for a dental visit, schedule an appointment at CT Pediatric Dentistry today.