A common misconception about baby teeth is that since they eventually fall out, oral hygiene is not as important as it is for permanent teeth. However, these seemingly unimportant teeth set the path for your child’s dental health for the rest of their life. Unfortunately, tooth decay in children is a fairly common site in our dental office.
Baby teeth serve as place markers for the adult teeth. If they fall out too soon, future teeth will come in crooked, which will result in significant orthodontic treatment later in the child’s life. Further, the baby teeth help children learn to speak correctly and enable them to eat.
Practicing good dental care from the start is the best way to help prevent tooth decay in your child.
What Causes Tooth Decay in Children?
As with adults, tooth decay occurs with regular consumption of sugary foods. Bacteria in our mouths feast on these leftovers and create acids that wear away the tooth enamel. Over time, this leads to tooth decay, also called cavities or dental caries.
Babies are particularly susceptible to what is known as baby bottle tooth decay. Long breast milk feedings and going to bed with a bottle or sippy cup filled with milk or juice means that the natural sugars in the food sit on the child’s teeth for long periods of time.
Signs of Tooth Decay in Children
Signs and symptoms of tooth decay vary among each child, however, parents should keep an eye out for the following indications:
- White spots on the surface of the teeth
- Black or brown spots on the teeth
- Bad breath
- Pain and/or swollen gums, which could indicate infection
- Tooth sensitivity
Preventing Cavities in Children
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research shows that 42% of children ages 2 to 11 have had cavities in their primary teeth. With the right dental care at home, you can reduce the risk for tooth decay. The following recommendations will ensure healthier teeth for your child.
- Using a damp washcloth, start cleaning your baby’s gums after feeding from day one.
- As soon as the first tooth comes in, you can start brushing your child’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste the size of a grain of rice.
- Demonstrate good oral hygiene habits by brushing and flossing your own teeth every day. You should brush your child’s teeth until they are capable of doing so on their own twice daily for two minutes.
- Make sure that your child eats healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. Limit sweets like cakes, candy, and gummy foods.
- The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommends scheduling your child’s first dental appointment at their first birthday or as soon as the first tooth comes in, whichever happens first. After that, they should see their dentist regularly every six months.
- Talk to Dr. Mjahed about using a fluoride supplement if your municipal water does not contain fluoride.
Treating Tooth Decay in Children
Treating cavities in children depends on their age and the severity of the damage. In most cases, Dr. Mjahed will use a filling to seal the hole. These fillings are made either out of a tooth-colored composite filling or are derived from metal. The metal fillings are easier and less expensive to put in and since the baby teeth will fall out eventually, this is a cost-effective option.
During the visit, your child will receive localized anesthesia and the dentist will drill the tooth decay from the teeth as needed. After that, Dr. Mjahed will seal the hole with a filling.
If your child is prone to cavities, talk to the dentist about dental sealants. These are clear barriers that help protect the teeth from decay. They are generally placed on the back teeth, which tend to trap food more so than those in the front. Some insurances do cover sealants for children under 18 years of age and they typically last several years before they need to be replaced.
Talk To Our Pediatric Dentist In Monroe NC
Preventing tooth decay in your child is simple provided you practice good oral health care from the beginning. Call the friendly staff at Monroe Family Dentistry at 704-753-0753 to schedule a visit with Dr. Mjahed today.
Treatment For Tooth Abscess At Our Dental Practice in Monroe, NC
Monroe Family Dentistry is there for you and your children from day one and we are happy to work with you and your child to start habits from birth. If you live near Monroe, NC call us to schedule an appointment today at 704.776.4278.