Why does my child get tooth decay?

There are many real life  reasons why children get tooth decay but they all track back  to a simple equation

sugar + bacteria + time = DECAY

Sounds simple but the devil is as always in the detail.

When your child has anything containing sugar to eat or drink a few things happen.

Tooth brushing is just one part of preventing tooth decay in children
Tooth brushing is just one part of preventing tooth decay in children
  • The bacteria in the mouth turn the sugar into acid,
  • The acid then attacks the teeth, dissolving  out minerals initially
  • In a normal healthy situation the saliva gradually neutralises the acid aver around 40 minutes
  • Over then next 6 hours approximately  the saliva gradually replaces the calcium that was lost in  the acid attack.

This is the full cycle of sugar attack, decay and then repair by the bodies natural defences. You can work it out that the more sugar exposures you have the more decay you get. Given it takes around 6  hours to repair the damage from just one sugar attack, 4 or more attacks in one day can mean that your child will develop tooth decay. The key thing here is  the frequency ( total number per day ) of sugar attacks dictates whether or not you get decay that progresses to an actual hole that needs to be filled.


Can you answer this question?

What will cause more damage to your child’s teeth ?

a. they break a chocolate bar into eight pieces and eat  them all in 1 go

b. they break the same bar into 8 pieces and eat one piece every  hour

Answer is b. will cause more damage as this equates to 8 separate sugar attacks, option a is a single sugar attack

So here are a few questions……

Does brushing immediately after eating something sugary help stop tooth decay?

not really, there are nooks and crannies that the toothbrush simply won’t reach no matter how expertly it is used. The sugar will lurk here so brushing afterwards does not offset a sugar attack

So does brushing really prevent tooth decay  at all?

Yes it does, by brushing you will reduce the total number of bacteria in your mouth, this means that less acid will be produced from a sugar exposure. Less acid means it will take less time to be neutralised and so do less damage. Also tooth paste contains fluoride which speeds up the repair process and gradually is incorporated into the tooth to strengthen it.

My kids don’t eat sweets / candies  but sill get decay…why?

Sugar is hidden in many forms, even picking away at fruits or berries can cause problems but that is a subject for another days post.