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How Can You Control Tooth Decay in Your Children?

You have probably heard that one way to help control kids' tooth decay is getting them to eat and drink less sugary food and beverages. You may be surprised to discover some of the other things you can do...

When we are born, we don’t have tooth decay causing bacteria in our mouths. Without tooth decay causing bacteria, sugars cannot be turned into tooth-damaging acids!

We acquire bacteria as we grow, mainly from other people. This means that you can also help control your child's tooth decay by preventing him or her from getting decay causing bacteria in the first place!

This is very effective, especially in young infants and toddlers whose newly erupting teeth are at great risk. Children this age usually get these bacteria from family members or other caregivers!

Some things you can do to prevent passing decay causing bacteria to your child are:
  • Avoid cleaning pacifiers, soothers, or bottles with your saliva.
  • Avoid sharing a toothbrush with your child.
  • Avoid sharing spoons or other utensils with your child.
  • Brush regularly and keep your own mouth healthy! The less bacteria you have, the less likely you are to pass them to your child.

Glossary and Additional Information

Infants and toddlers usually pick up decay causing bacteria from family members or other caregivers.

Government of Alberta Health and Wellness. A Parent's Guide to Healthy Teeth for Children Birth to Six Years. Available at: Accessed 07/03, 2009.
Milgrom P, Weinstein P. Early Childhood Caries: A Team Approach to Prevention and Treatment. United States of America: Continuing Dental Education; 1999.

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