Tooth Decay in Children – What’s Lurking Under the Surface?
Did you know that your child may be at risk for tooth decay even if he or she has never even so much as tasted candy? Tooth decay in children is a serious issue that is rarely addressed yet can be easily avoided. Cavity prevention begins at home and is a team effort between you, your child, and your pediatric dentist.
It may come as a shock that tooth decay in children is about far more than merely brushing and flossing. While good oral hygiene practices are essential to cavity prevention, there’s so much more under the surface. Tooth decay is actually a disease known as dental caries and can be spread among family members through seemingly harmless actions, such as sharing eating utensils or cups. It begins with an eerie-sounding group of germs known as mutans streptococcus. These awful bacteria thrive on the sugar that remains on your child’s teeth after eating. As the bacteria digest this sugar, a harmful acid is left behind that erodes the structure of your child’s teeth through calcium depletion. This very same process is responsible for the buildup of plaque. Once enough calcium has been lost, a cavity will form.
Cavity prevention should begin right away, long before your little one has any teeth.
- Use a gum brush or soft washcloth to cleanse and massage your baby’s gums.
- Begin using a toothbrush once the first tooth pokes through.
- Brush your toddler’s teeth for anywhere between 30 seconds and 1 minute both after breakfast and before bedtime.
- Flossing should start as soon as you notice two teeth that touch.
- Brush your teeth along with your child to encourage good habits.
- Offer continual encouragement, and try to make the routine as fun as possible.
- Around age seven, children should be brushing and flossing on their own.
- Two minutes of brushing is the ideal regardless of whether your child uses a manual or electric toothbrush.
It’s never too early for your child to visit a pediatric dentist.