In November 2008, the Ontario Dental Association (ODA) declared tooth decay an infectious disease. The report showed that all children are generally at high risk for tooth decay and urged parents, the government, and the community to work together on prevention.
Children are particularly more vulnerable and susceptible to tooth decay. They suffer from oral diseases at an alarming rate. Tooth decay can also be transmitted by licking a pacifier or by sharing a spoon. Moreover, dental caries caused by tooth decay is the most common dental disease in children, but it is preventable in almost all cases.
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SYMPTOMS OF TOOTH DECAY IN CHILDREN
Young children’s teeth are comparatively weaker and are generally more susceptible to gum diseases. Various symptoms can indicate the presence of tooth decay in your children’s mouth, such as the appearance of holes or dark spots on teeth, toothache, swollen gums, or sensitivity to temperature extremes.
If you notice any of these symptoms in your children’s teeth, take them to a dentist as soon as possible to prevent serious dental issues. The problems caused by tooth decay are mild or unnoticeable in the beginning, but if they are left untreated for extended periods, the decay spreads to other oral structures and eventually results in tooth and bone loss.
EFFECTIVE TIPS FOR PARENTS TO HELP BUILD HEALTHY ORAL HABITS FOR THEIR CHILDREN
- Wipe the gums of your baby gently with a clean wet cloth after each feeding before they have teeth.
- If your baby sleeps with a bottle at naptime or bedtime, fill it with just water.
- If your children normally fall asleep while feeding, brush their teeth before feeding.
- Lift your baby’s lips and watch for changes in colour, spots or lines on your child’s teeth, as these may be signs of potential dental issues.
- As soon as the first tooth appears, start brushing your baby’s teeth with fluoride-based toothpaste in the morning and before bedtime. Fluoride is a mineral that protects teeth to a great extent.
- While brushing your child’s teeth, put a small dab of toothpaste across a small soft brush and wipe off excess toothpaste. You can also start flossing your teeth at least once a day to prevent the accumulation of bacteria in hard-to-brush areas.
- Change your child’s toothbrush between one to three months.
- In order to prevent the spread of germs that cause tooth decay, do not put anything in your child’s mouth if it has been in your mouth. You also shouldn’t share cups, food, spoons, toothbrushes, etc.
- Also, make sure to take your children to the dentist by the age of one year, or when their first teeth appear; in this way, you can help them maintain good oral health as by taking them to a dentist, various oral problems are diagnosed and treated in their initial stages.
DIAGNOSIS OF TOOTH DECAY IN CHILDREN
Tooth decay should be diagnosed and treated in the beginning when it shows mild symptoms; otherwise, advanced tooth decay causes serious oral complications and is difficult to eliminate.
Tooth decay in children can be diagnosed through a series of X-rays and radiographs. In the diagnosis process, dentists also examine the genetic history of gum diseases and probe your child’s teeth with various dental instruments to evaluate the presence of tender or soft areas in the mouth.
HOW CAN TOOTH DECAY BE TREATED IN CHILDREN?
Tooth decay is described as the destruction or breakdown of the hard outer layer of teeth, the enamel which causes holes in the tooth surface. If tooth decay advances the initial stages, you cannot treat it at home, and it requires professional help.
In the treatment of tooth decay, dentists generally remove the decayed portion of the tooth and replace it with dental fillings. The dental fillings are restorative dental procedures and effectively repair teeth functionality by minimising the spread of decay to adjacent teeth.
There are generally two types of dental fillings:
1. DIRECT RESTORATIONS
Placement of tooth fillings is a common type of direct restorative dental procedure and requires only one appointment for completion. These procedures significantly improve your children’s oral health by restoring the form and function of their teeth and are less time-consuming. The fillings usually comprise tooth-coloured materials like silver, fine powder, acrylic resins, and fine glass powder.
2. INDIRECT RESTORATIONS
The indirect dental restorative procedures usually require two or more visits for completion. The indirect restorative fillings are fabricated outside the patient’s mouth at a dental lab. Some common indirect restorations are dental crowns, veneers, bridges, onlays, and inlays.
The indirect restorations become necessary when the decay has progressed to the advanced stages and cannot be eliminated by direct restorative procedures. The common material of indirect restorations includes porcelain, composite resins, cast gold, cast metal, etc.
Tooth decay or caries is commonly caused by the presence of bacteria in children’s mouths for prolonged periods. The most common causes of tooth decay in children involve the consumption of sugary or starchy food items and poor oral hygiene routine; moreover, if particles of food items like milk, cereals, cakes, soda, or raisins are left on the teeth, they can also give rise to severe oral and periodontal diseases.
If tooth decay remains untreated in children’s mouths for extended periods, it can severely harm their oral health and can cause problems like sensitivity to temperature extremes, hard or swollen gums, and pain sensations while chewing food. Moreover, if caries or tooth decay advances to its maximum extent, it can affect your children’s growth and create problems in their speech, teeth, and jaw development.
Tooth cavities or caries are one of the most common and chronic diseases among children. So it is essential for parents to take proper care of their children’s oral health by providing them with healthy oral hygiene routines and by taking them to dentists or oral hygienists for proper dental check-ups and in-depth oral cleanings to prevent all teeth-related problems.