Whether a child has healthy teeth or not depends on the behavior of the parents. The family is of great importance in health education: Parents can develop health-conscious attitudes in their children through their behavior. For dental care this means specifically:
- Parents clean all of their child’s teeth from all sides in the evening until the child is capable of thorough oral care (see leaflet “Parents brush children’s teeth”). This point in time is only reached when the elementary school child can write fluently cursive script.
- Parents motivate children to care for their teeth through their own dental care behavior. Parents have a role model function; the children imitate their parents.
- Parents ensure that toothbrushing utensils are suitable for children and that they are renewed regularly.
Tooth decay is caused by acids that attack the tooth enamel (decalcification) and create holes in the tooth. These acids are mainly formed when bacteria “digest” sugar in the mouth. But other food residues (e.g. starch) can also get stuck between the teeth and be used by bacteria. In addition, sugar can become a sticky substance that acts as a binding agent between bacteria. They allow the bacteria to adhere to the teeth; Together with food residues and saliva components, this forms plaque. The bacteria have built their own “nest” with the help of the sugar! Acid is mainly formed in and under the plaque.
Parents can discuss with their children when tooth decay is particularly easy:
- If we frequently nibble on sweets such as candy, chewing gum, chocolate or ice cream,
- if we often eat sweet things such as jam, nougat cream, desserts, cakes or cookies,
- when we drink lemonades, tea sweetened with sugar or other sugary drinks such as iced tea, sports drinks and the like,
- if we do not eat a balanced diet, e.g. do not consume enough minerals such as calcium or phosphate,
- if we do not brush our teeth regularly or thoroughly enough (= plaque-free).
It is particularly dangerous if something sweet is constantly eaten during the day or if it stays in the mouth for a long time (e.g. when we are sucking candy). Then there is always an “acid attack” on the teeth. This takes around 30 minutes longer than sucking the candy (or eating).
Even so, children don’t have to go without sweets. A ban on sweets cannot be maintained in everyday life and is also not necessary if parents observe the following five points:
- Brush your teeth after breakfast
- Sugar-free morning
- Less often sugary foods or drinks in the afternoon
- Brush your teeth right before going to bed, do not eat or drink anything afterwards (except water or mineral water)
- In addition, parents clean their children’s teeth on all sides in the evenings until they reach school age
The five points are the dentistry justifiable result of a sensible combination of effective oral hygiene and (tooth) healthy nutrition.
Our teeth and gums stay healthy as long as attack and defense are in balance. Sugar attacks the teeth – it doesn’t matter what kind of sugar it is, whether table sugar, honey, fruit or grape sugar or other hidden types of sugar. Frequent attacks lead to tooth decay in the long term. The saliva, on the other hand, is our most important natural protective system in the mouth. Saliva flushes, protects, repairs and hardens teeth. The saliva is, so to speak, the repair shop for the teeth and thus the defender against the attacker sugar.
So that the body’s own defense system “saliva” can also work, the saliva must
- get to the tooth, ie the tooth must be free of plaque and
- Have enough time without sugar impulses: About 16 hours of defense can compensate for 8 hours of attack.
Our cleanly brushed teeth therefore need a sugar-free period. On the one hand, they get this at night when we don’t eat or drink anything sweet after brushing our teeth in the evening, and in the morning when we make it “sugar-free”.
Sugar-free morning means after brushing your teeth in the morning to choose chewing, natural foods as snacks and drinks without sugar (e.g. mineral water, unsweetened teas). Here is a small selection of recommended snacks: rolls or loaves of bread with sausage or cheese, poppy seed, sesame and cheese sticks, fresh fruit and raw vegetables (e.g. carrots, peppers, tomatoes or cucumbers). These sugar-free times allow a sweet dessert after lunch and snacking in the afternoon, whereby the following applies: Better to enjoy a delicious ice cream, a piece of cake, a couple of gummy bears with pleasure and without a guilty conscience than in small portions throughout the afternoon eat.
Carious spots or holes do not go away by themselves. Over time, they get bigger and deeper, so that we can finally feel them with our tongue. At first, the tooth only hurts when it comes into contact with something very hot or cold, sweet or sour. Later on it can lead to permanent pain, inflammation and severe general illnesses. Therefore, tooth decay needs to be treated by a dentist.