how to prevent tooth decay in your child

Question: How Can I Prevent Tooth Decay in My Child?

Tooth decay, or cavities, can cause toothache and other serious dental problems. The good news is, mummy and daddy can help prevent tooth decay from harming the little one’s pearly whites. Here’s how!

How are Cavities Formed?

Cavities (tooth decay) are formed when the bacteria in our mouths feed on the food we eat — usually carbohydrates such as sugar and starches.

This produces acids that slowly eat into our tooth, slowly breaking down the enamel beneath the tooth’s surface, while the surface remains intact. When enough of the enamel is eaten away, the surface collapses, forming a cavity.

Related: Early Childhood Caries (ECC)

How to Prevent Cavities?

Maintaining good oral hygiene is a must!

Brush twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste

Brush at least twice a day for two minutes each time and floss daily to remove plaque between teeth. Use toothpaste that contains at least 1000 parts per million (ppm) fluoride.

Fluoride in toothpaste protects your child’s teeth from tooth decay by strengthening it. However, children can get fluorosis on permanent teeth from swallowing too much fluoride toothpaste. Fluorosis results in a change in colour or texture of the teeth.

To prevent fluorosis, ensure that an appropriate amount of toothpaste according to your child’s age is dispensed and that your child does not swallow the toothpaste.

Use a fluoridated toothpaste containing at least 1000ppm fluoride twice a day to prevent tooth decay. For children below 3 years old with high risk of decay, a smear amount (size of a rice-grain) of fluoride toothpaste is recommended.

Visit a dentist who can advise you on your child’s risk of developing tooth decay and on the appropriate use of toothpaste. For children 3 years old and above, use a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste.

Related6 Tips to Make Brushing Teeth Fun for Kids

Visit the dentist

Bring the little one for regular dental check-ups. Preventive care can help stop problems from occurring and keep minor problems from becoming major ones. As cavities attack beneath the tooth’s surface, it will not be immediately visible to mum and dad whether your child has a cavity or not until it’s too late. Only a dentist will be able to nip the problem in the bud.

Related: Dental Check-Ups For Teens

Eat and drink less sugar

Make sure junior eats a well-balanced diet with a limit on sugary foods. reduce the frequency of intake of such foods. Drink water instead of juice or carbonated drinks. The tap water in Singapore also contains fluoride, which has been shown to effectively fight tooth decay.

Visit Parent Hub, for more useful tips and guides to give your child a healthy start.

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Read these next:


  • Protect and Repair Your Teeth. Retrieved November 2018 from
  • John Donovan. (2016, December 16). Myths and Facts about Cavities. Retrieved November 2018 from
  • MOH—Water Fluoridation to Prevent Dental Caries. Retrieved November 2018 from