Does Tooth Decay in Baby Teeth Cause Permanent Harm?
All parents are aware of the need to keep their children strong and healthy, but sometimes the importance of keeping baby (temporary) teeth healthy can be overlooked.
This is often because the temporary nature of these teeth makes them seem less important.
But childhood tooth decay is the most common chronic disease suffered by our children. Estimates vary, but up to 40% of children are believed to have at least one cavity in the first five years of their life.
And these cavities can have surprisingly negative effects on oral health, both in the present and future of children. In this post, Captivate Dental discusses how tooth decay can harm your child and what you can do to prevent it.
Let’s take a closer look at these issues.
Why do baby teeth matter?
Despite the misconception that losing baby teeth isn’t a problem as they are going to be lost anyway, there are several very good reasons to be concerned about cavities and the early loss of temporary (baby) teeth.
Placement and spacing. Temporary teeth create the spaces into which permanent teeth grow.
If temporary teeth are lost early, the spacing of permanent teeth can be harmed, leading to the need for orthodontic treatment in the future.
Other problems can arise from early tooth loss:
- Dental pain from cavities can lead children to avoid chewing, causing the possibility of poor nutrition. Untreated cavities can lead to an infection that reaches other areas of the body and the brain.
- If baby teeth develop, an abscess or infection tooth development can be harmed, leading to damage to the permanent tooth below.
- The tongue, lips, and cheeks work together to help us speak. If baby teeth are lost prematurely, it can lead to permanent problems with pronunciation. Children with unhealthy, poorly spaced, and misaligned teeth often don’t speak well. This can lead to social issues as well as speech problems down the road.
- Self-esteem – Decayed teeth are unattractive and can decrease a child’s confidence and self-esteem. Children can be extremely thoughtless, and you don’t want your child picked on because of an unattractive smile.
The best way to handle tooth decay, in infants, children, adults, or seniors is to prevent it. We’ll talk about that in a bit.
Symptoms of Tooth Decay
Parents may not be able to detect that serious damage has been done; however, here are a few things to look for:
- White deposits near the gumline.
- Brown spots along the gumline.
- Unexplained changes in eating habits. If your child prefers soft foods or avoids cold, hot, sweet, or hard foods, they may be suffering from tooth decay.
What can a parent do?
As your child grows, there are a few things you can do:
Up to one year old. Before any teeth erupt, clean your baby’s mouth. Use a baby washcloth to wipe their gums. This helps them get used to oral hygiene from a very early age.
When the first tooth erupts, move to use a toothbrush and a very small dab of toothpaste. Flossing should begin once two teeth touch, and it is up to an adult to do it.
Don’t allow your child to sleep with food or a baby bottle. This can cause baby bottle rot, ear infection, and choking.
Similarly, don’t allow your child to drink from a bottle for too long (water excluded) and don’t use bottles as pacifiers.
After one year, switch your child from a bottle to a cup, to avoid liquid pooling in the mouth.
Don’t make this shift until 12 months, as the sucking action required by bottles helps the tongue and facial muscles develop.
One to three years. After breakfast and before bed brush your child’s teeth for two minutes, reaching all quadrants of the mouth.
Make an appointment to have your child see us at Captivate Dental at the age of 1.
One of the most important habits to establish with children is visiting the dentist on a regular basis.
The Moorabbin dentist will evaluate their teeth and gums and offer suggestions on how to properly care for their teeth.
Establishing this relationship early will prevent the child from being afraid of the dentist later.
At our first meeting, we can begin to acclimatise your child to the dental office and get an early look at their oral health.
Complete dental care in Moorabbin
Captivate Dental is conveniently located in Moorabbin near Brighton (near Kingston City Hall and Moorabbin Station).
We provide the highest quality care and enable patients to make informed choices.
Our competent, caring staff provides value through excellent diagnostic skills and efficient use of the best quality materials.
Captivate Dental offers a wide variety of preventative and cosmetic dental treatment for kids, seniors, and everyone between!
For patients with busy schedules, we offer Saturday hours as well as late visits on Wednesday (by appointment only).
GAP FREE Promotions for our New Patients
No Gap Initial Examination, Clean, Fluoride treatment and 2x X-rays for all Private Health Insurance Dental coverage.
Child Dental Benefits Schedule
Bulk Bill for children who are eligible for MEDICARE CHILD DENTAL BENEFIT SCHEDULE
Up to $1000 worth of dental treatments over two years
Please call us to check eligibility and balance.
We are located at 46 Station Street in Moorabbin.