Tooth Decay in Children

Although children should start visiting a dentist as soon as their first tooth comes out, not many of them actually do. The reason behind this is that many parents believe that it’s perfectly fine to wait until their child is three years old before taking them for a dental checkup. Furthermore, even though parents pay attention to their children’s dental hygiene, they often make mistakes when it comes to how often their little ones should brush their teeth, how they should do it and what kind of toothbrush, toothpaste, or even water they should use. For these and other reasons, many children face tooth decay at a very early age. Here are some main causes of tooth decay in children, ways to treat it and how to prevent it.

Causes of tooth decay in children

Bacteria that normally live in your child’s mouth can be the cause of tooth decay, but not on their own. It’s only in combination with other things that they lead to cavities. When your child eats foods loaded with sugars and starches, some residue of those foods remains on their teeth. Then the bacteria influence and change these foods, creating acids. The acids then combine with the bacteria, food residue and saliva to form a thin and sticky layer on children’s teeth. This layer is called plaque and if left on the teeth, it can harden. Plaque is actually the main cause of cavities, as the acids in it break down tooth enamel with time, and that’s how cavities are created. 

Since everybody has bacteria in their mouth, including children, there is always some risk of tooth decay, but there are some things that increase this risk. Diet rich in sugars and starches is one of them, as well as the levels of bacteria, which can be higher in some children’s mouths. Add to this inadequate oral hygiene and water that doesn’t contain enough fluoride, and you’ve got a recipe for tooth decay. 

Tooth Decay

Symptoms and Treatment of tooth decay in children

If you notice white spots on your kid’s teeth, if they’re complaining of toothache or sharp pain when they eat anything sweet, cold or hot, or if there are brown or black stains on their teeth, take them to a reliable dentist in Brisbane or whichever city you’re located in. These are the symptoms of tooth decay and a dentist will be able to diagnose it with ease.

How your child is treated for tooth decay depends on how severe the issue is, but also their age, symptoms and overall health. The treatment usually comes down to removing the part of the tooth with the decay, and then using a filling to close the gap. A filling, or restoration, is what’s placed in teeth to fix the areas that the tooth decay has damaged. There are two types of restorations. Direct restorations require only one visit to the dentist, where they simply prepare a hole by removing a cavity and put a filling into it. In most cases, these restorations are tooth-colored. Indirect restorations often require several visits to the dentist and they can cover anything from crowns and veneers to bridges. 

In case you don’t notice the cavities on time and the infection spreads, it can infect the pulp or the nerve in your child’s teeth. If this happens, consider finding a reliable expert in endodontics to perform a root canal treatment safely. The goal of the root canal treatment is to numb the tooth’s nerve and remove it, disinfect and sterilize the empty inside of the root and then fill the remaining gap. After that comes the restoration, whose role is to seal the tooth in order to prevent decay from spreading or returning. 

Tooth Decay

Prevention of tooth decay in children

The best way to deal with tooth decay is to prevent it from forming in the first place. It’s important that you teach your children to brush their teeth regularly, and while they’re still too little to do it themselves, you should brush their teeth (or even a single tooth they have) yourself twice a day. The water they use shouldn’t be bottled, but rather tap water, especially if it’s fluoridated. Make sure that they use fluoride toothpaste and that they floss daily from the age of two. 

Pay attention to their diet and do what you can to make it a balanced one, without too many sugary and starchy foods and snacks. Instead of giving them juice, give them water when they’re thirsty, especially during the night. Don’t mix your saliva with theirs to prevent bacteria transfer. This means that you shouldn’t share a glass or cutlery with your kid and that you don’t clean your baby’s pacifier by sucking on it yourself. Finally, take your kid for a dental exam twice a year starting with the moment their first tooth appears. 

Tooth decay is a common problem in kids, so instill good habits in your child in order to prevent it. If the issue still occurs, react straight away and get treatment for them before things become worse and more serious than they already are.