Childhood Tooth Decay

 

Childhood Tooth Decay

Childhood Tooth Decay

Have you ever seen a child with gray, brown, or black on their front teeth? Or a child with silver crowns on their teeth? Many people refer to this as “baby bottle decay” or “bottle rot”, and yes it is typically caused by the use of sugary drinks in a bottle or sippy cup and a lack of home care.

Childhood tooth decay AKA Early Childhood Caries is labeled by the CDC as the single most chronic childhood disease. Some children have rampant (extensive) decay before the age of 5. This disease is caused by the same bacteria that cause decay in adults. Fermentable carbohydrates found in foods and drinks that we consume are what bacteria feed on, and then produce acid that eats away the enamel of our teeth. Many parents do not realize that their children need good oral hygiene at home and that they should be helped and/or supervised with brushing and flossing. Until a child can perform these tasks on their own, they really need someone to do it for them or help them. A good age for a child to start brushing on their own is when they can tie their own shoes. They begin to have the dexterity needed to angle the toothbrush properly and floss the back teeth. Even at that age, a parent should be checking behind them to make sure a good job is done.

Home care is just a part of the picture. Education about what food and drinks cause this problem and regular dental visits are also necessary to cut back on cavities. Did you know that nearly 50% of all children have NEVER been to a dentist? That’s a lot! Nutrition is important for our over-all health as well as oral health. Sugary and acidic foods are to be consumed in moderation and brushing/flossing in between will help prevent decay. Juices, sports drinks, sodas, and even milk (yes, MILK!) are high in sugar. These drinks put into a bottle or sippy cup that a child is drinking from all day and even at night cause major tooth decay. It is best to use water in bottles at night or flavored water with NO SUGAR if a child must have a bottle. Sticky candies, bread, citrus fruits, and desserts are all foods that should be eaten in moderation as well. Even if your child is on a very low sugar diet, they must still be brushed and flossed every day. You should begin brushing your child’s teeth as soon as they are erupted in the mouth, and flossing once the teeth are touching.

Dental visits are important for children as well as adults. It is a great idea to bring your child in at an early age so that they can familiarize themselves with the dental office (lots of new sounds and smells!) and having someone looking and touching inside their mouth. If they have teeth, a dentist should take a look at them. Regular checkups and x-rays can help us determine if there are and cavities and clean the teeth. With proper home care, diet, and regular visits with us, your child will be sure to have pearly whites and get into good habits for life. Its summertime and they’re out of school, so if we haven’t met your children, make them an appointment with us to get on the road to healthy beautiful smiles! –AD

Childhood Tooth Decay