According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tooth decay affects one in seven 3 to 5-year olds, making it the most common childhood disease in the United States.
The good news is that this issue can easily be prevented by taking some proactive measures regarding your child’s diet and oral hygiene.
This piece will discuss the causes and symptoms of child tooth decay—followed by prevention techniques, courtesy of one of the best dentists in Bethesda!
Causes of tooth decay
This list highlights some of the most common reasons for tooth decay in children specifically.
1. Carbohydrate-rich diet
If your child is consuming food that contains excessive sugars—such as fruit juices, candy, and flavored milk—it can lead to accelerated tooth decay. The bacteria in the mouth feed on the carbohydrates in the food we consume. As a result, acids are produced, which break down tooth enamel.
The enamel is the protective layer on the teeth that protects the vulnerable area inside. Once this area is exposed, cavities start building up.
2. Bottle Feeding
A condition known by the name of ‘Baby Bottle Tooth Decay’ or ‘Early Childhood Caries’ is quite common in infants and toddlers who drink milk from a bottle. This is caused by frequent and prolonged exposure to milk that contains sugar.
Children who sleep with their baby bottle or a pacifier in their mouths at night are at a higher risk of it developing. This condition is known to affect the front two teeth; however, it can cause tooth decay in other teeth as well.
Symptoms of tooth decay
Tooth decay is quite common in children, and can occur even if you take reasonable preventative measures. It’s a good idea to be on the lookout for any warning signs so the problem can be dealt with as early as possible. The longer the delay, the more problems you can expect to develop.
Here are some common symptoms of toddler tooth decay:
1. White Spots
This is the first visible indicator of tooth decay in children. It shows that the tooth’s enamel is starting to experience wear.
2. Tooth Pain
If your child experiences discomfort or complains of pain in the mouth, it could be a sign of tooth decay. Often, children become fussy and have trouble sleeping because of this pain.
3. Tooth Sensitivity
If your child is having trouble eating food that’s hot or cold, that’s a strong indicator of tooth decay. It may even be triggered by certain foods such as candy.
4. Black or Brown Spots
Black, brown, or grey spots on your child’s teeth or around the gum line are a clear sign that your child is dealing with tooth decay. At this point, it’s imperative to take them to the dentist.
Instilling good oral hygiene habits at an early age is very important. It requires a little bit of commitment (and a lot of perseverance), but ultimately, it goes a long way.
1. Better eating habits
Avoid sugar-laden foods in the house and try to get your kids to eat a healthy and balanced diet. Not only does this keep nasty mouth bacteria away, but it also strengthens your child’s teeth by providing them with the nutrients they need. Whenever possible, substitute sugary drinks for water—this includes fruit juices.
2. Regular cleaning
Tooth decay caused by bottle feeding can be reduced by cleaning your child’s teeth with a soft gauze after every feeding session. Additionally, you can also start brushing your toddler’s teeth once they start coming out. Apply a light smear of non-fluoridated toothpaste and brush gently.
3. Dental Checkups
Visit the dentist every six months to get your toddler’s teeth checked out. Dentists can conduct a more thorough examination, preventing major problems from occurring later on.
Ready to get started?
If you’re looking for a reliable family dentist in Bethesda, visit Bethesda Dental Health clinic to get your toddler’s teeth checked out today.
Dr. Larijani has over ten years of experience and is recognized as one of America’s top dentists, according to the International Association of Dentists (2010-2011). She specializes in providing affordable and reliable dental solutions for the whole family.
To schedule an appointment with one of the best dentists in Bethesda, call (301) 654-1887 or visit our website.