What to Do if Your Toddler or Baby Has Tooth Decay (And How to Prevent It)
This is the reason for the hospitalisation of more than 100 kids every week in New South Wales alone. Many of them need filling, while others require capping and even extraction.
As a parent, your top priority is keeping your little ones as healthy and happy as possible. Now, keep in mind that there’s such a thing as a mouth-and-body connection. In other words, your children can only be in great health if their teeth and gums are in perfect condition.
This said, it’s best you arm yourself with the know-how of dealing with rotten teeth. We’ll share with you all the important details you need to know, so be sure to keep reading!
Tooth Decay in Kids: How It Develops in the First Place
Plaque is the culprit behind dental decay in babies, toddlers, and adults. It’s the colourless film that creates a sticky layer on the teeth.
What makes it dangerous is the bacteria it contains. When these microorganisms mix with sugars and starches left by food, they produce a type of acid. This acid is so strong that it can eat away at the teeth’s enamel, the hardest tissue in our bodies.
Leave cavities untreated, and that film that seems harmless can lead to rotten teeth. When the affected teeth become too decayed, it can cause pain, gum diseases, and worse, tooth loss.
Myth Busters: Dental Decay in Kids are as Harmful as Cavities on Adult Teeth
Now, you may be thinking that since baby teeth are only temporary, decay in them isn’t as big of a deal. Wrong.
Granted, primary teeth will still fall out to give way for adult teeth. But that doesn’t make them expendable nor less important than permanent teeth.
Untreated cavities, whether on baby or adult teeth, are harmful, period. Even when they affect only the primary teeth, they can still have a negative impact on your child’s young mouth.
Top Plaque-Forming Causes in Children
There are plenty of factors that can lead to plaque formation on the tooth in the first place. Knowing what these are is key to preventing a rotten tooth from making your little one suffer.
Poor Oral Hygiene
As a kid, you’ve likely heard your parents tell you to brush your teeth at least twice a day. It should be the same for your kids.
The sad news is, a survey found that two-thirds of Australian children don’t follow this golden rule.
Brushing and flossing on a regular basis are crucial to getting rid of plaque. Keep in mind that plaque is a constantly-forming hazard on the teeth. Worse, it takes as little as one to three days for it to harden into the even more harmful tartar.
That alone should make you realise the importance of twice-a-day brushing and flossing.
Your young ones should also see a dentist for cleaning and gum care at least twice a year. This way, you can rest assure the plaque missed by brushing and flossing are still addressed. Plus, regular dental visits also help you find out if your child has any special oral health needs.
Baby Bottle Decay
If your child often falls asleep with a baby bottle in their mouth, they’re at risk of tooth rot. This is especially true if the bottle contains milk, formula, or juice. In fact, even only a wee bit of sugar or honey on the pacifier can cause rotting tooth.
This is one of the top causes for the 42% of all kids between five and 10 years old having had baby tooth cavities. These drinks, after all, contains sugar. Again, sugar left in the mouth for too long gives rise to tooth caries.
The best way to prevent this is to stop putting your child to sleep with a bottle containing a sugary drink. If your tot is having a hard time falling asleep without a bottle, fill it with water instead.
Too Much Sugar and Carbs
A whopping 14 teaspoons of sugar every day. That’s how much of the sweet carbohydrate Australians consume.
The problem is, that amount far exceeds what the World Health Organisation recommends. It’s 57% more than the recommended sugar intake for adults. For children aged four, that’s almost 80% higher than the recommended limit of three teaspoons a day.
FYI, WHO doesn’t recommend giving children younger than two any extra sugar at all.
That’s because too much sugary and carb-rich foods can lead to so many health conditions. They can cause the teeth to rot.
To keep your entire household tooth decay-free, limit the intake of such foods and drinks. These include milk, candies, fruit juices, sodas, cakes, bread, and preserved fruits. If you can’t 100% rid your family’s diet of it, then stick to the golden rule of regular brushing and flossing.
Getting Rid of Cavities ASAP
Have you noticed different-coloured spots on your kid’s teeth? Does your young one complain of mouth or tooth pain or sensitivities to hot, cold, or sweet foods and drinks?
In this case, then it’s best you set up an appointment with a children’s dentist like Dr de Castella at Yarra Valley Dental ASAP. All those are signs of dental decay.
The earlier the diagnosis, the sooner you can save your child from more pain. The sooner a dentist addresses the decay, there are fewer risks for possible tooth loss.
Treatment Options for Rotting Teeth
In any case, if your child already suffers from rotting teeth, know that a good dentist will try to save it first. Reliable dentists often consider extractions as the last resort.
The treatment still depends on the age and health condition of your little one. The oral health professional also needs to consider the severity of the dental decay.
If you get your kid treated early, then it’s likely that a filling is all that’s needed. This involves a thorough cleaning of the teeth and gums and getting rid of the decayed part first. From here, the dentist replaces the removed part with a filling material.
Fillings, or restorations, usually come in two forms: Direct and indirect restorations.
For direct restoration, your child can be in and out of the dental office in an hour or even less. Most direct restorations often consist of a tooth-coloured material. Resin, acrylic, and silver are the most common materials used.
Indirect restorations take about two or more dental office visits. They’re more complex and need more preparation. In most cases, they’re often the treatment for more severe (and multiple) decays.
Aside from dental fillings, these treatment options also include inlays and onlays. Crowns, veneers, and bridges are also often used, although, for the most part, they’re given to adults. Most of these mimic the natural appearance and colour of the tooth enamel.
More Tips to Prevent Rotting Teeth in Your Child
A lot of parents aren’t aware that they can transfer bacteria from their own mouth to their kids’. That can happen when sharing utensils. That said, you’d want to avoid feeding your child with the same utensils you already used.
Also, make sure you follow these preventative guidelines to keep rotting teeth at bay:
The Right At-Home Oral Care
A baby’s first tooth often erupts by the age of six months. When this happens, you can start brushing. It’s important to brush not only the teeth but also the tongue and gums.
For kids below three, a tiny amount of toothpaste — the size of a rice grain would suffice. You can bump this up to a pea-sized amount by the age of three. As for flossing, your little one can begin doing it daily once they hit the age of two.
Increase Fluoride Intake
Lack of fluoride can also contribute to tooth decay. That’s because this natural mineral helps make the dental enamel stronger. As a result, the teeth become more resistant to cavities.
Public water supplies in Australia contain this mineral. But not all people in the country drink straight from the water supply. Nor do you they use quality fluoride-containing toothpaste.
In this case, it’s best that you consult a children’s dentist such as Dr de Castella at Yarra Valley Dental about the best ways to raise fluoride intake. Aside from tap water and toothpaste, there are also fluoride supplements available. Fluoride varnish and dental sealants can also be a good idea for you and your children.
Stopping Dental Cavities In Their Tracks
Here’s a final statistic to put things in perspective:
67,266 oral health-related hospitalisations occurred in Australia between 2015 and 2016. Almost a third of these were for patients eight years old and younger. What’s more, many of these were preventable conditions.
All that should make you more concerned about tooth decay.
Dental cavities don’t have a place in your home, so keep them at bay before they make your children suffer.
If your child is showing signs of rotting teeth, like tooth pain or sensitivities, don’t hesitate to ring us up. We can get those cavities sorted ASAP.