Understanding Early Tooth Decay in Kids: What Can I Do About It?

Child smiling at dentist

What Is Tooth Decay? 

Having healthy teeth and good oral health is important for our overall health and happiness, and it’s no different to kids. That’s why taking good care of your child’s teeth is important so they don’t suffer from tooth decay. 

Also called dental caries or baby bottle tooth decay, decay occurs when the enamel of the tooth (that is, the hard, outer surface) is damaged. Since the enamel of kids’ teeth is thinner and softer, they are at higher risk for tooth decay. 

What Causes Tooth Decay in Kids? 

Did you know that eating a lot of sugary foods and drinks is one of the main causes of tooth decay? That’s because when kids eat too much sugar, the bacteria in the mouth feed on these sugars to produce acids that can eat away at the surface of the tooth. This will then create cavities or holes in the tooth. 

However, it’s not just about the sugary foods and drinks you eat and drink. It’s also about how long it stays in the mouth. The longer it stays, the greater chance there is for acid to develop and damage the tooth enamel. For example, if your baby is put to sleep with a bottle of milk or formula, it can pool in their mouth for a long time, leading the way to tooth decay. 

Aside from that, there can also be situations where your kid’s teeth don’t develop properly. When this happens, their teeth are weaker, making them more prone to damage and decay. This is why caring for your kid’s teeth is so important! 

Effects of Tooth Decay

Left untreated, things can go from bad to worse. Tooth decay may give way to a number of other issues, and your children might then have to face the following: 

-pain and infection 

-increased risk of cavities in the future

-crooked permanent teeth 

-problems related to jaw and teeth development

-speech related issues 

-poor self-image

Nobody likes feeling self-conscious about their smile. So, remember, taking care of your kids teeth now means less issues to deal with down the road and more confidence. 

Signs of Early Tooth Decay 

Tooth decay develops over time in kids and can sneak up on you, as it is harder to spot the early stages in children. However, there’s zero harm in keeping an eye out for some signs of tooth decay, such as: 

-a dull white band on the tooth surface closest to the gum line (at the base of the teeth), which is the first sign of decay

-yellow, brown or black spots at the bottom of the teeth 

-blackened holes in the teeth or broken teeth which suggest advanced tooth decay and an immediate visit to the dentist. 

How To Prevent Early Tooth Decay? 

We’ve all heard that prevention is better than cure. When it comes to tooth decay, that’s definitely true. The only good thing about tooth decay is that prevention is possible if the necessary steps are taken early on. If caught in advanced stages, your child may need to undergo major dental treatment, which is what we hope for you to avoid. 

Now that you know the importance of preventing early tooth decay, here are some things that you can do to help prevent it. 

-Set up good dental habits by cleaning and caring for your child’s teeth regularly. While doing that, make sure to teach your kids the importance of doing so. It’s a good idea for parents to take over brushing and cleaning their teeth until they are around 8 years old to make sure teeth are cleaned properly.

-There’s no guarantee that cleaning teeth alone will help prevent tooth decay. We know that sugary foods and drinks can also affect your child’s teeth and eventually lead to tooth decay. So, practice healthy eating habits by being mindful of what your child eats. For starters, you can avoid putting your baby to sleep with a bottle and not give them sweet drinks regularly. 

-Keep an eye on your child’s teeth by looking into their mouth regularly to spot any signs of early decay and bring them in for dental visits. The Australian Dental Association recommends that a child’s first dental visit should happen when their first teeth become visible or by the time they reach the age of 12 months. That way, if there are issues related to tooth decay, you can catch them before they advance. 

Following these simple steps can help you prevent tooth decay and keep your kid’s smile in place. Schedule checkups with our child-friendly dental professionals regularly because it’s never too early to make sure your child has a healthy smile. We’ll make sure your child has quality dental care while we do our best to educate you on how best to care for your child’s teeth.