How To Stop Early Childhood CariesSeptember 3, 2020 6:21 pm
Every parent wants the best for their child, and that includes looking after their dental health to prevent tooth decay. Early childhood caries (ECC) – or, more simply, more than one decayed baby tooth in a child under six years old – is surprisingly common. While it might not seem so serious, it is actually a disease that needs to be diagnosed and treated by a pediatric dentist.
What are Dental Caries?
Caries, or cavities, resulting from tooth decay. Decay is caused by ‘bad’ bacteria in the mouth. While its normal to have millions of bacteria in the mouth at any time, there is a fine balance between ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Sugars feed the bad bacteria, and these bacteria produce tooth enamel-destroying acid after just a few minutes. The more sugar – the more bacteria there are.
Many well-intentioned parents don’t realize that there is actually a whole array of hidden, natural-occurring sugars in the things your child eats and drinks. Breast milk, for example, has 17 grams of sugar per cup! So, while putting your child to bed with a bottle of milk might seem like a good idea – when it comes to tooth decay, it’s actually pretty risky.
Causes of early childhood caries
As well as sugars in the diet, there are a few other factors that affect early childhood caries. Bacteria like to stick to plaque, the sticky coating that covers teeth. So, if your child doesn’t have a good dental routine in place, then more plaque and bacteria collect – causing more damage. And, babies that don’t yet have their teeth are also at risk, as bacteria can still gather on gums and in saliva. So, ECC is something that has to be thought about early.
The dentist is your key partner in the fight against tooth decay. A good pediatric dentist can spot the signs of baby teeth decay even very early on, and they will be able to give advice about good routines and habits. For example, swapping milk at bedtime for water is a good start. While the advice is to go to the dentist once your child’s first tooth comes through, or before they reach one year of age, the dentist can also give advice on looking after babies’ oral health. For instance, you can use a damp cloth to wipe gums after feeding, to clean away sugars and bacteria.
The great news is that ECC is totally preventable! The first step is looking at diet. While most of us know to avoid snacks and treats that have sugar added to them, naturally-occurring sugars also need to be managed. Avoid giving your child fruit juice or milk in situations where it will be in extended contact with their teeth, like a bottle or sippy cup. Stick to
water as much as possible. Next, see your dentist for help in how to stop cavities at home. Finding a great pediatric dentist is a good way to avoid early childhood caries.
Finally, get a good dental routine in place at home. Brush baby teeth twice a day, for two minutes at a time. The dentist will help explain the right type of fluoride toothpaste, and will give tips on making brushing a fun and enjoyable experience in order to prevent tooth decay.
Treatment for baby bottle tooth decay
The pediatric dentist can fill cavities that are spotted early enough, though advanced decay may need more treatment. In these situations, sedation may help to avoid stress. In any case, it’s essential to treat tooth decay. Leaving it untreated is likely to be the most painful and most long-term problem for your child. So, make sure to find a pediatric dentist that is
right for your family.
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