Hear from the professionals: How you can prevent early childhood tooth decay for your child

Good oral health is an important habit to develop with your child from a young age, as good dental hygiene is something that will stick with them for life. Children’s dental care is an important step in tooth decay prevention.

What is tooth decay in children?

The breakdown or destruction of the tooth’s enamel (the hard outer surface of the tooth) is called tooth decay. Tooth decay can lead to cavities, which are holes in the teeth. There are ways that may help tooth decay prevention.

What causes tooth decay in kids?

Tooth decay is caused by bacteria and other things. It can happen when foods containing carbohydrates are left on the teeth, such as milk, soft drink, raisins, lollies, fruit juice, cereal and bread. Bacteria that normally live in the mouth change these foods, creating acids. The combination of bacteria, food, acid and saliva form plaque, which sticks to the teeth. The acids made by the bacteria eat away at the tooth enamel, causing cavities over time.

Which children are at risk for tooth decay?

Everyone has bacteria in their mouth, so each child is at risk for tooth decay, but there are certain things that may raise the risk:

  • High levels of the bacteria that cause cavities
  • A diet high in sugars and starches
  • Water supply that has limited, or no, fluoride in it
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Less saliva flow than normal

What are the symptoms of tooth decay in children?

Decay may be different for each child, but the common ways that teeth develop decay and cavities. Some tooth decay symptoms may be:

  • White spots begin to form on the teeth in the areas affected. These spots mean that the enamel is starting to break down.
  • An early cavity appears on the tooth; it will look light brown in colour. If the cavity becomes deeper, It will turn a darker shade of brown or black.

Sometimes children don’t know they have tooth decay or a cavity until their dentist finds it, but your child may feel:

  • Pain in the area around the mouth
  • Sensitivity to certain foods, especially when hot or cold.

How is tooth decay diagnosed in a child?

Your child’s dentist can usually diagnose tooth decay based on:

  • A complete history of your child
  • An exam of your child’s mouth
  • Dental X-Rays

How is tooth decay treated in children?

The treatment of tooth decay will depend on multiple factors, such as the child’s symptoms, age, general health, and how severe the tooth decay is.

In most cases, treatment requires removing the decayed part of the tooth and replacing it with a filling. Fillings are materials placed in the tooth to repair damage caused by tooth decay. These are also called restorations, and there are two different types of fillings, direct restorations and indirect restorations. Your child’s dentist will let you know which one is needed, depending on the child’s needs.

How can I prevent tooth decay in my child?

There are certain things that can help you how to stop tooth decay:

  • Start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as the first one appears. Brush their teeth, tongue and gums twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. If your child is old enough, teach them how to brush their own teeth correctly.
  • Floss your child’s teeth daily after age 2.
  • Make sure your child has a well-balanced diet to prevent certain foods from damaging their teeth. Limit snacks that are sticky and high in sugars.
  • Prevent the transfer of bacteria to your child’s mouth. Don’t share utensils, and don’t clean your infant’s pacifier with your saliva.
  • If your child uses a bottle at bedtime, only put water in it. Juice or formula contains sugar that can lead to tooth decay.
  • Schedule routine dental cleanings and exams for your child every 6 months.

For more tips and information on how to prevent tooth decay in children, talk to one of our children’s dentists in Ashburton.

Children's Dentist in Ashburton

Why Ashwood Dental?

Ashwood Dental Surgery is a trusted dentist in Ashburton. Ashwood Dental Surgery provides care beyond your expectations, treating you and your family’s dental needs with unique care. We’ve acquired the latest in dental technology, so that all of our clients experience fast, efficient, mostly pain-free procedures and check-ups. We have caring children’s dentistry, and our dentists understand that some children have a fear of the dentist and will take the time and patience needed to make sure they feel comfortable.

We accept all health funds, including the CDBS. We are preferred providers for NIB and HCF. We also have payment plans available, making it easier for you to smile now and pay later. For more information, call our friendly staff or visit our website.