Does your child suffer from discoloured front teeth, disturbed sleep, or do they avoid solid foods? It could be a sign of early childhood caries which is closely related to tooth decay in children.
As a parent, there is a magnitude of things to organise when it comes to your children. Their oral health is definitely one of the most important, as it has an impact on their general health throughout their life.
Did you know that dental caries is one of the most common infectious diseases in young children? The treatment of early childhood caries begins with learning what it is and how it develops.
Early childhood caries: What is it?
This disease is caused by a build-up of bacteria upon your child’s teeth which eat away at the enamel, causing erosion and tooth decay. Food particles not properly removed from brushing and flossing cause’s germs to spread in your child’s mouth, which eventually leads to dental plaque. If left untreated, an acid will form which erodes the enamel on the teeth. Over a period of time, this acid eats away at the surface of the teeth, creating holes (cavities).
Tooth decay can result in pain, infection and even have an impact on a child’s growth. Baby teeth severely affected by decay can have grave consequences for your child’s speech and jaw development.
The longer their tooth decay is left untreated, the more likely your child will experience:
- Pain and discomfort
- More expensive and complicated treatment
- A higher risk of new decay forming in other baby and adult teeth
- Feelings of anxiousness when visiting a dentist, as they may begin to associate dentists with pain
- Loss of time at school
When should you visit the dentist for professional care and advice?
A formal appointment would take place at about 2 years of age. Before that parent are welcome to come and ask questions and have their child say hello and introduce them to the surgery. This is usually done at the time of the parents’ appointment and there is no charge for this. Ideally, bring your child with you to the dentist within 6 months of their first tooth erupting. During this initial consultation, your dentist will assess their dental condition and provide you with lots of information on the best ways to care for their teeth at home, based on your child’s developmental needs.
How you can help avoid tooth decay and dental caries from forming
It is easy to prevent early childhood caries and associated tooth decay from forming with good dental care, employing healthy habits and feeding your child tooth-friendly foods and drinks.
The 3 step approach entails:
- Avoiding bacteria transfer – It is very important that parents have healthy teeth as unhealthy mouths put babies at great risk. New parents and couples planning to have kids should ensure they have good oral health by keeping regular dentists appointments. Realistically, bacteria transfer is hard to avoid completely, but it is better for you to have healthy teeth than have to avoid giving your child loving kisses!
- Caring for teeth from an early age – Your baby should be taken to the dentist soon after their first tooth has erupted, and definitely by the time they turn 1 year of age. Your dentist will be able to identify if your child is at risk of early childhood caries, as well as provide education on brushing and flossing, any additional preventative therapies and dietary advice. If early childhood caries is identified, early treatment by your dentist can prevent significant disease.
- Avoiding diets that promote decay – Where possible, avoid putting your child to bed with a bottled milk or juice, and reduce nighttime breastfeeding once their teeth erupt. Ideally, provide your baby with bottled water during sleep times so that it protects their gums and general oral health.
At Redlands Gentle Dental Care, our team of dedicated dentists care greatly about the health of your child’s teeth and gums. If your child’s teeth are beginning to erupt, or they are showing signs of tooth decay and caries, please contact our friendly and professional team to book in a consultation.
Call our Victoria Point practice on 07 3820 7777, our Capalaba practice on 07 3245 5511, or alternatively, click here to complete our enquiry form.