Even if you suffered from cavities when you were young, it doesn’t mean that your child should develop them. Instead, find out how you should protect your child’s teeth from tooth decay. Practices like eating a balanced diet and using fluoride to strengthen the teeth can set your child up for a healthy smile for life.
What is Tooth Decay in Children?
Tooth decay is the destruction and breakdown of tooth enamel. Enamel is the outer surface of a tooth that is usually hard. Tooth decay leads to cavities which are holes in the teeth.
What Causes Tooth Decay in Children?
Bacteria or other things mainly cause tooth decay. It happens when foods containing sugars and starches are left on the teeth often. Such foods include soda, milk, fruit juices, candy, raisins, cake, bread, and cereals. The combination of acid, bacteria, saliva, and food form a substance called plaque. Plaque sticks to the teeth’s surface, especially on the back teeth. Over time, the acids made by bacteria eat away the enamel causing cavities.
Which Kids are at Risk for Tooth Decay?
All children have bacteria in the mouth. So all kids are at risk of getting tooth decay. But some factors may raise your child’s risk for it:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Having less saliva flow than normal
- High levels of bacteria that cause cavities
- Having limited water supply or has no fluoride in it
Signs and Symptoms of Cavity
Dr. Rebecca Scott says that the following is common for teeth to develop cavities and decay. But cavities and decay can be a bit different for each child.
- It shows a light brown color when an early cavity appears on the tooth
- Your child has white spots on the teeth in areas affected. These spots indicate that the enamel is starting to wear off or break down. When the cavity becomes more profound, it turns a darker shade of brown to black
The symptoms of cavities and tooth decay vary from child to child. Cavities do not always cause symptoms. Sometimes your child doesn’t know that they have one until a pediatric dentist near you finds it. But the child may feel:
- Sensitivity to certain foods such as chocolate and sweets and cold and hot drinks
- Pain in the area around the tooth
How’s Tooth decay and Cavities Diagnosed in Kids?
Our pediatric dentist in Lincoln diagnoses your kid’s tooth decay based on:
- An exam of the child’s mouth
- A complete history of your kid
- By performing dental x-rays
How is Tooth Decay and Cavities Treated in a Child?
Treatment depends on your child’s age and symptoms. It’ll also depend on how severity of the condition.
In most cases, your dentist removes the decayed part of the child’s teeth and replaces it with a filling. A dental filling is a material placed in the tooth to repair damage caused by decay. They are also referred to as restorations. There are different types of fillings in Lincoln Children’s Dentistry. They include:
- Direct Restorations: These need a one-time visit to the dentist to get it placed directly into the prepared hole. These fillings are made from fine glass powders, silver, resin, and acrylic acids. These filings are often tooth-colored.
- Indirect Restorations: These restorations require two or more visits. They include onlays, inlays, veneers, bridges, and crowns. They are made of ceramics, gold, base metal alloys, or composites. Many of these restorations look like natural tooth enamel.
How to Prevent Tooth Decay in My Child?
You can help your child practice pediatric dentistry prevention with these simple steps:
- Floss your child’s teeth daily after the age of 2
- Please help your child brush their teeth as soon as the first tooth appears. Brush the teeth, gums, and tongue twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. And be there to watch as your child brush their teeth
- For children younger than three years old, you should use a small amount of toothpaste
- Ensure your child eats a well-balanced diet. Always limit snacks that are high in sugars and sticky such as candy, chips, and cake
- If your kid uses a bottle at bedtime, ensure it is water inside. Juice contains sugars that lead to tooth decay
- Always talk to your child’s pediatric dentist about using a fluoride supplement if you live in an area without fluorinated water.