Parents have a big responsibility in teaching their children good habits that will hopefully last for a lifetime. These habits can have a significant effect on the long-term health of the individual child, especially when it comes to dental hygiene and oral care. What can these parents do in the early years to set the youngsters up for successful years ahead?

Beware of the Vicious Circle

Even though they are very young, the typical cycle of tooth decay will still be very evident unless parents take responsibility and become proactive. The process of decay causes bacteria in the mouth that produce acid when they come into contact with sugary foods typically introduced in a baby's diet. This acid dissolves the tooth enamel and prompts the formation of cavities, reinforcing the amount of bad bacteria in the mouth once again.

The best way to stop this vicious circle is to carefully monitor the food and drink in the child's diet. This, combined with a concerted use of fluoride in the toothpaste and a good brushing and cleaning regime, is the best defence against the onslaught of decay.

Regulate the Diet

It's crucial for parents to have a good look at the food and beverages in the child's diet. Often these can appear to be relatively healthy on the surface, but they are packed with carbohydrates and sugars, which are the main cause of the problem. Remember also that fruit contains sugar even though it is naturally occurring and bacteria will not differentiate between good and bad sugar but will metabolise either into acid.

Don't Overfeed

You should also get away from the habit of feeding the child as often as he or she calls for it. It can be tempting to do so in order to comfort them and stop them crying, and even if you're feeding them good food, overly frequent snacking can also be a cause of decay. This is because the mouth's natural defender — saliva — takes time to neutralise any present acid and cannot work properly if new foods are constantly being introduced.

Brushing Properly

In addition to regulating and monitoring the diet very carefully, parents should also make sure that they properly clean their children's teeth twice per day. While they certainly need to teach the child how to do this themselves, they must also monitor progress regularly to ensure good practice is maintained.

Talk with a dentist to learn other useful tips.