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Baby Tooth Decay : What Parents Need to Know

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Tooth decay is a very common problem, even among young kids. The National Oral Health Survey conducted by the Dental Council of India reveals that in the children aged 5 years (primary teeth), 50% of the subjects had caries, whereas in the children aged 5 and 15 years respectively 52.5% and 61.4% subjects had caries. Baby cavities can pose significant problems for children, but with the help of a dental professional, their parents can keep them healthy and cavity-free.

Why They're Important

Baby teeth will eventually fall out to make room for the permanent teeth, but that doesn't mean these early cavities aren't a concern. Early childhood cavities can lead to early tooth loss that complicates your child's oral care moving forward.

Decayed baby teeth that cause severe pain and early tooth loss is a cause for concern because these baby teeth act as guides for the permanent teeth's eruption. Without them, the permanent teeth may come in crooked. Ear and speech problems are another type of issue associated with decayed baby teeth. Keep in mind these issues can harm your child's self-image and decrease their quality of life. With the help of his or her dentist, however, you can prevent even the most prominent problems associated with decayed baby teeth.

How to Get Ahead of Cavities

Among other aspects of their home care, pay attention to your child's mouth even before their first tooth appears. At first, wipe their gums with a damp washcloth after they eat, and once that first tooth does emerge, use a toothbrush and water to gently clean their teeth. When your child has learned to spit, you can graduate to a non-fluoridated toothpaste to help keep their new teeth clean. As your child grows and learns to rinse, check in with your dentist about using a toothpaste that contains small amounts of fluoride. Although some parents choose to avoid it until a certain age, fluoride still helps to protect your child's teeth from cavities in moderate amounts.

Regular visits to the dentist are also important for children, and these visits need to start earlier than you might think. A child's first dental appointment should take place before their first birthday. At this visit, a paediatric dentist checks for signs of tooth decay or similar dental issues, while making sure you know how to care for your infant's or toddler's mouth to minimise complications.

What Can Help

If tooth decay is diagnosed in its early stages when the decay is limited to the enamel as a white spot lesion, your child's dentist may recommend remineralising treatments such as fluoride varnish. This can reverse the early symptoms of tooth decay by remineralising this area on the tooth enamel.

If the decay is more severe and involves the dentine or the pulp, remineralising treatments won't be sufficient and the teeth must be restored by a dentist. Luckily, advanced childhood tooth decay is treated the same way you'd address adult tooth decay in your own mouth. This treatment may even involve familiar remedies like fillings or crowns. If the decay is uniquely advanced, however, the teeth may need to be extracted. Your child's dentist will advise you of the best treatment method after examining your child's teeth.

Baby cavities can cause ongoing problems for your child, but with the help of your dentist, you can keep your child's teeth healthy.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.