Tooth Decay in Kids | Cheeeese
Baby teeth are weaker than adult teeth, which unfortunately makes them more susceptible to tooth decay.
If a baby tooth gets a cavity, it needs to be treated before it spreads down into the nerve or to the adult tooth below it.
Tooth decay is one of the most prevalent childhood diseases.
Many experts say that teeth cavities are the leading cause of kids' missed school. That's sad. And it is mainly because baby teeth are not as strong or cavity resistant as adult teeth. Tooth decay in kids tends to spread more quickly than in adults.
And to make matters more challenging, when kids are little, they often crave independence and they don't want their parents to help them brush their teeth. But fortunately, there are steps parents can take to lower their chances of their kids getting cavities.
But first, let's talk about the symptoms of a cavity in a kid.
Since kids sometimes can't communicate very well about tooth decay symptoms, some basic hints that might be a sign of a cavity are nothing.
When a cavity is small, the child often won't notice a thing. Maybe, if you look very good in their mouth with like a flashlight or something, you might see some evidence of staining or a little darkness on a tooth.
But not until the decay reaches an aggressive stage will you notice these symptoms.
The kid not wanting to eat, swelling or a pimple on the gums, visible darkness, a hole in the tooth, when a kid puts their hands in their mouth more than normal, so what caused this? In most cases, it's from extended lengths of time where plaque is sitting on their teeth or from frequent snacking throughout the day.
You never want a child to go to bed at night or even be put down for a nap with a sippy cup in their mouth with milk or juice because these sugary liquids will pull across their teeth for the next hour or more.
They etch the enamel which causes cavities.
Diets high in processed carbohydrates, natural sugars, or sticky foods can increase the number of cavities causing bacteria in their mouths. So try to limit that stuff as much as possible.
And of course, if a kid's teeth aren't properly brushed routinely and flossed each day, it will just be a matter of time before the plaque eats through the outer layer of the enamel.
So proper and routine brushing and flossing, you can use the floss picks. Those work for kids.
It's so incredibly important for kids. One of the first responses a lot of parents have is if one of their kids has a cavity well, those teeth are just going to fall out anyway. They don't need a filling. They're going to fall out at some point.
But it's not always that simple.
Say a 3-year-old toddler, for example, has a cavity on a tooth.
This cavity can easily spread down into the adult teeth that have not yet erupted. And with toddlers, they're going to have most of their baby teeth still for years and years and years. If they get a cavity when they're three, we've been seeing how quickly and rapidly cavities spread in kids.
The cavity on the baby tooth is going to reach that adult tooth before that baby tooth ever has a chance to fall out. We have some of our baby teeth in our mouths until age 12. If they were to get a cavity on one of those teeth, that needs to be taken care of at the dentist.
One more example, say it's an eight-year-old mixed dentition.
They have both baby teeth and adult teeth. If they get a cavity on a baby tooth next to an adult tooth that's already erupted, that baby tooth can also spread adjacent right next to the neighboring tooth, which could have been prevented if it was filled
This is when trusting your dentist is very important because if you're in a situation like this with your child, your dentist can help guide and explain all of this to you, keeping in mind your kid's case.
Because if the cavity gets severe enough that the tooth has to be taken out prematurely, the baby tooth gets taken out before it should fall out if for some reason they can't do a pulpotomy, which is a child's root canal, pulling a tooth prematurely can and usually does lead to complications like speech impairments.
Orthodontic issues impacted or crooked adult teeth, self-esteem issues later on, and even sometimes digestive problems.
When we're talking about cavities on kids' teeth, it's important to get them treated as soon as possible because cavities don't recover, they just get worse.
What is the best way to treat a cavity in your kid's teeth?
It depends on how large it is. Preferably your dentist is catching the decay when it's small and less invasive, at which point they will recommend a filling.
But if the cavity has already ruptured through those outer layers, of enamel, a crown is sometimes necessary, sometimes even a pulpotomy if it gets to the nerve.
How can we prevent this from happening?
Start by brushing your baby's teeth as soon as they erupt. The ADA recommends using a rice grain-sized smear of fluoride toothpaste to help make teeth more cavity-resistant. It is OK to use for toothpaste with babies and kids as long as you're putting the correct amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush.
Brushing in a circular pattern helps to clean off all the plaque. And an electric toothbrush is always a good idea.
And once other teeth start to erupt, be sure to floss.
You got to start flossing the sides of every tooth at least once a day. As I mentioned quickly earlier, you can use those floss packs for kids. A lot of companies make fun, bright, colorful ones so they don't have to use the boring whatever they are like white and green. The ones that we always see on the ground outside, everyone always litter with their floss picks.
They are a great tool to use because then you don't have to try and get your hands in their little.
The two last things to help prevent cavities are between meals, always make sure to offer toddlers and kids water instead of any other beverage, and kids should be going to the dentist every six months, just like adults do. To recap decaying teeth in kids is a serious issue.
Unfortunately, tooth decay symptoms in kids usually aren't visible to parents until they are severe.
Remember good oral hygiene, a healthy, balanced diet, and visiting your dentist every six months are the most important steps in preventing cavities.