Improving Your Dental Care

Understanding Tooth Decay in Children

Your child is vulnerable to several problems that could affect their oral health. One of the most common problems is tooth decay or nursing caries. Although your child's teeth will be eventually replaced by permanent teeth, it is important to keep the milk teeth healthy. The following article seeks to explain the causes of tooth decay, the consequences involved, and how to prevent tooth decay in your child.

Causes of Infant Tooth Decay

Tooth decay in children occurs when your child's teeth are regularly exposed to sugars in drinks like milk, fruit juices, sugar water or any sweet drink. If your breastfed child goes to sleep bearing unswallowed milk, they also are at risk of getting tooth decay. The bacteria in the child's mouth feeds on sugars present in these drinks, causing tooth decay.

Consequences of Infant Tooth Decay

Decayed teeth make it hard for your child to chew. Baby teeth act like space savers for permanent teeth. If your baby's milk teeth get damaged, they will be unable to guide their permanent teeth to the correct position. This results in crooked or crowded permanent teeth. Crooked teeth interfere with your child's chewing and could lead to temporomandibular joint problems- a condition that affects the jaws and mouth.

Destroyed baby teeth could even cause an abscessed tooth that could spread the infection to other parts of the body.

Premature loss of teeth is another consequence of infant tooth decay. If your child loses teeth before the permanent teeth have developed, the teeth that are nearby will shift or tip. When the permanent teeth start to emerge into their rightful place, there will not be sufficient space and the new tooth will come out tilted.

Prevention of Infant Tooth Decay

  • Do not give your child a bottle full of sugary fluids or milk to calm them down; instead give him/her plain water.
  • Do not dip your child's pacifier in any kind of sugary liquid.
  • Do not give your child sugary drinks when taking them to bed - give him/her a pacifier or some plain water.
  • Avoid adding sugar in your child's food.
  • Wipe your child's teeth with a wet cloth after it is fed. This will get rid of bacteria that cause plaque. It will also remove a build up of sugars on your child's teeth.
  • Ask the dentist about the fluoride needs of your child. If your child's drinking water does not have enough fluoride, your dentist will recommend fluoride treatments or supplements.
  • Teach your child to drink directly from a cup during their first birthday. This lowers exposure to sugars.

Speak with professionals like Discovery Dental for more information.