Childhood Dental Caries | Causes, Treatment and Prevention
As a parent, you want your child to be as healthy as possible. Part of being a healthy kid involves having a healthy mouth. While oral health issues aren’t extremely common in children there is one condition that happens frequently and that’s childhood dental caries.
Dental caries is known as the scientific term for tooth decay or cavities. It’s caused by specific types of bacteria that produce acid and destroy the tooth’s enamel and the layer under it. Caries from the most easily in places such as:
- Cracks, pits, or grooves in the back of the teeth
- In-between teeth
- Around dental fillings or bridgework
- Near the gum line
Dental caries is one of the most prevalent diseases in children under six years old and is referred to as Early Childhood Caries (ECC). While this disease is preventable, a child is five times more likely to be diagnosed with ECC than asthma. If a child younger than six has already developed two or more cavities, ECC will be considered present.
Risk factors for Severe Early Childhood Caries
Severe early childhood caries can be easily prevented but there are some risk factors involved with the disease. They include:
- A child who has not yet visited the dentist
- Going to sleep with a baby bottle filled with fruit juice or milk
- A child who does not have their gums wiped or teeth brushed before be
Sugar is a huge risk factor for childhood caries. The sugar from beverages and food coats the teeth. That’s why it’s important that a child drinks plenty of water and has a good tooth brushing routine to wash away any sugar.
Preventing Dental Caries in Children
As a parent, there are many things you can do to help prevent childhood caries.
Visiting the dentist
Visiting the dentist regularly is the best way to prevent dental caries in children and avoid other serious dental issues. It’s recommended that a child visits the dentist before they turn one or when their first tooth erupts. After a child’s first visit, regular dental check-ups should be scheduled once every six months.
Dental care at home
Practicing good oral hygiene at home is another way to prevent childhood caries. Clean a child’s teeth in the morning at night and start teaching them good teeth brushing and flossing techniques. Ask your dentist for the best methods for checking your child’s teeth at home.
Good nutrition is an important part of ensuring that your child has healthy teeth. Young children should be provided with a balanced diet filled with essential vitamins and nutrients. Be sure to limit over-consumption of sugary juices and foods as they can lead to decay after a child’s teeth start growing.
With these practices, childhood caries can be easily prevented.
Childhood Caries Treatment
The most common treatment for childhood caries are fillings which can be easily done by a general or pediatric dentist. If extensive work is needed, a dentist may need to administer sedation to put the young child at ease while work is done. However, this is only done in more severe cases. Cavities and caries can be painful so it’s essential to have them treated right away.
Frequently Asked Questions on Dental Caries in Children
What causes early childhood caries?
Childhood caries is caused by certain types of bacteria that live in the mouth. Bacteria stick to plaque in the teeth and feed on what you eat, especially sugars. Children with diets higher in sugar may be more likely to develop childhood caries.
How can you prevent early childhood caries?
Childhood caries can be easily prevented. Adopt a healthy, balanced diet for your child and limit starchy and sugary foods. Also, develop dental hygiene habits early by brushing your child’s teeth and wiping their gums. Visiting the dentist regularly is another sure way to help prevent childhood caries.
Is it necessary to fill cavities in baby teeth?
While baby teeth aren’t permanent, they are the teeth your child will have for many years. If you’re child experiences caries or cavities, your dentist will fill them accordingly. The primary teeth help adult teeth come in properly, so it’s important that your child’s baby teeth are as healthy as possible.