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Early childhood tooth decay

About early childhood tooth decay

This one affliction can cause more pain in children than all other afflictions combined. It is a dental problem that can destroy the tooth of a baby or young child.

This type of dental decay is usually caused by the prolonged exposure of the tooth to a liquid (other than water). For instance, if you put your child to bed with a bottle (even a milk bottle), their teeth will be in contact with a liquid all night. Putting a sugary drink in the bottle will lead to tooth decay. These include milk, infant formula, soft drinks, fruit juice or any other liquid that contains a type of sugar.

Dental decay process

Teeth are covered by a sticky deposit called plaque. Bacteria contained in plaque use sugar to multiply and supply acid to the teeth.

At night, saliva production decreases, leaving the sugary liquid directly in contact with the teeth over a long period of time. The sugar left in the mouth allows the acid to attack the tooth all night and increase the damage.

The effects of early childhood decay

While upper teeth are more often the victims of tooth decay, the deciduous dentition (baby or primary teeth) can also be affected.

Possible damage

  • Problem in the development of permanent teeth (misalignment of permanent teeth)
  • Dental decay
  • Difficulty eating
  • Speech development delay
  • Hearing impediments
  • Brown staining of the teeth
  • Bad eating habits
  • Social issues (low self-confidence in young children)
  • Pain
  • Gingivitis
  • Structural damage to the bone (periodontal diseases)
  • General health issues

Prevention of early childhood decay

  • The first dental exam should be conducted early in the child’s life. The first visit to the dentist should happen at the first tooth eruption, unless an oral issue arises beforehand.
  • Start brushing your child’s gums even before the eruption of the first tooth.
  • Check your child’s teeth for brown stains or discolouration.
  • Before the first tooth erupts, rub your baby’s gums with a cloth after each time you feed them.
  • From the age of 6 months or as soon as the first tooth erupts, do not let your baby or young child sleep with a milk or juice bottle. If you think the bottle is necessary, fill it with water.
  • Never let your child go to bed with a pacifier dipped in sugar or honey.
  • Perform regular check-ups of your child’s teeth.
  • Contact us as soon as there is a change in your child’s teeth colouration.
  • Teach your child how to drink from a glass around the age of 6 months. You can cut off the bottle around the age of 1.

We can help you

The first step is always prevention. Discuss with us and follow the advice above. If your child already suffers from tooth decay, we can help you treat the cavity or infection and develop a plan together to prevent further damage.