Tooth decay is a very common problem, even among young kids. According to the National University Centre for Oral Health Singapore (NUCOHS), 40 per cent of children in Singapore under six years old were found to have early childhood caries (ECC), with over 90 per cent of those caries untreated. ECC 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 Are Important
Baby teeth will eventually fall out to make room for permanent teeth, but that doesn't mean that these early childhood caries aren't a concern. ECC 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 eruption of permanent teeth. Without them, permanent teeth may come in crooked. Ear and speech problems are another type of issue associated with decayed baby teeth. Keep in mind that these issues can harm your child's self-image and lower their quality of life. With the help of your child's dentist, however, you can prevent even the most prominent problems associated with decayed baby teeth.
How to Get the Better of Cavities
Among other aspects of home care, pay attention to your child's mouth even before their first tooth appears. At first, wipe their gums with a damp face cloth after they eat, and once that first tooth emerges, 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 in moderate amounts still helps to protect your child's teeth from cavities.
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 teeth are at an advanced stage of decay, however, they 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.