Early Childhood Tooth Decay
As soon as a child begins teething they are susceptible to developing cavities in their baby teeth. Early childhood tooth decay occurs when children’s teeth are allowed to come into contact with sweet or sugary drinks over a longer period of time. Sugar is contained in a wide variety of foods including formula, mother’s milk, cow’s milk and fruit juices. Babies can develop tooth decay from being sent to bed with a bottle of milk, juice or formula. Although babies who are breast-fed on demand during the night can develop this condition, they are less likely to do so.
Preventing Tooth Decay in Toddlers
Early childhood tooth decay can develop up to the age of 4, which is why it is so important to ensure your child begins to see a pediatric dentist from age 1 onwards or soon after they get their first tooth. We can advise you on how to clean their teeth and you will need to begin flossing as soon as their teeth come into contact with each other.
Our pediatric dentist can discuss the best toothpaste to use as often this is a low fluoride or fluoride free toothpaste until they are age 2 and develop the ability to spit out the excess. Make sure you clean their teeth last thing at night so they go to sleep with a clean mouth. If they want a bottle or drink at night, provide plain drinking water. If your child finds a pacifier comforting, make sure it is not dipped in anything sweet or sugary before you give it to them.
How to Prevent Cavities in Children
Getting your toddler into a good oral hygiene routine will help keep their teeth free from cavities throughout their childhood. Children need to be supervised when brushing until about age 7 and they may lack the dexterity to floss until age 10. Flossing is particularly important to prevent cavities in between teeth. As well as brushing twice a day and flossing one-a-day, make sure your child has a good diet with plenty of vitamins and minerals to keep their teeth strong. Limiting the amount of sugary foods eaten will help reduce their risk of developing a hole in a tooth and our dental office can provide nutritional counselling.
Tooth Decay Symptoms
There are various signs of tooth decay which include noticing dull white spots on the teeth, or even that teeth have become darker in color. It is important to seek professional dental care as soon as you can to minimize the risk of infection and pain and to increase the chances of the tooth being saved and restored.
Tooth Decay Treatment
Our pediatric dentist will visually examine your child’s teeth for any signs of decay and may wish to take dental x-rays to assess areas hidden from view and to see if the infection has spread into the roots of the tooth. This will enable us to prescribe the correct treatment. Hopefully the tooth can be restored with a simple filling but if it is extensively infected then we may need to carry out a pulpotomy procedure in children, a type of a baby tooth root canal to try to save the tooth.