Early Warning Signs of Tooth Decay in Children

Did you know that young children are more at risk from tooth decay than adults?

The enamel on baby teeth is much thinner than our own which makes it more vulnerable to bacteria and the teeth more prone to decay. The fact that these aren’t permanent teeth shouldn’t make their care any less important. 

This makes good oral care our responsibility as parents, because these little ones won’t know or care about the condition of their teeth.

What are the early signs of tooth decay in children and what can we do about it?

Main Causes of Tooth Decay in Children

We have recently discussed how important it is to begin a good oral hygiene routine from a very young age. These little teeth are so important to a child’s development, being essential in eating and speaking properly. They also serve as a guide for the larger and stronger adult teeth and help to position them correctly. 

The most common causes for tooth decay in children are touched on below.

Sleeping with a Bottle

Putting a child to bed with a bottle of formula, or anything other than water, will certainly damage their teeth. The sugars in milk formula or juices (even when diluted) settle on the teeth as the liquid pools in the mouth. 

During the night, saliva flow is greatly reduced so the contents of the bottle remain on the teeth for an extended period. This creates the perfect environment for the growth of bacteria that compromises tooth enamel.

Poor Oral Hygiene

Some children have a real aversion to having their teeth brushed, which can make regular cleaning a real headache for parents. Don’t give up!

If not done regularly, your child will suffer from decay which can lead to many other medical issues down the line.  

Poor Diet

A diet high in sugary snacks and processed food is going to damage your child’s teeth and overall health. 

Most children will almost always choose sodas, chocolates, chips, and cookies over nuts, fruit, or raw veggies, but this doesn’t have to be the case. These high-sugar snacks spread throughout the day will quickly erode the fragile layer of enamel on their teeth and start the process of decay super-early. 

Early Signs of Tooth Decay

In the early stages of tooth decay, you will notice a white, chalky look to the affected teeth. Over time this turns darker, becoming brown or black. 

This dull white line usually occurs close to the gumline and primarily affects the top and bottom front teeth. It can be difficult to identify, which makes a regular check of your child’s teeth an important part of their oral hygiene. If not dealt with quickly, this band will start to darken as the decay progresses. 

‘Chalky teeth’ can also occur if the enamel on the teeth hasn’t hardened properly during your child’s early development. If this is the case, you will notice creamy coloured or even very white spots on the teeth. This indicates that your child’s teeth are at greater risk of decay as they do not have sufficient protection. 

Sensitivity to hot or cold foods or drinks will also highlight a potential problem. As decay progresses, the delicate nerve endings within teeth are exposed. If your little one complains of pain or experiences discomfort when eating hot or cold foods, then decay may have set in. 

Bad breath or bleeding gums should also raise a red flag for parents. This points to an excess of bacteria or early gum disease – both of which need to be attended to quickly.  

Preventative Measures to Protect Against Tooth Decay

The causes of tooth decay in children point to the easiest solutions. 

Besides regular, gentle, and thorough brushing, there are other preventative measures that you can take to maintain a healthy set of baby teeth.

  1. Don’t put your baby to bed with a bottle. 
  2. Don’t give your child juice, cordial, or other sugary drinks from a bottle. 
  3. Teach your child early to use a cup.
  4. Teach your child to floss as early as possible.
  5. Give your child lots of water. 
  6. Never use honey or sugar on a child’s dummy.
  7. Look for sugar-free medicines if possible. 
  8. Encourage healthy snacks as opposed to sugary, processed foods. 
  9. Cement a good brushing routine as early as possible,

Is it Time to Visit Your Dentist?

It’s never too early to bring your little human in to visit us here at Shine Dental Clinic. In fact, the earlier that they realise that regular dental visits are simply a part of life and that there is nothing to fear, the better for all. 

Tooth decay in children is easily managed when caught early and managed carefully by a professional.  

Call us today for your next appointment.

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