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Tooth Decay & Cavity Prevention in Babies and Children

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Tooth Decay & Cavity Prevention in Babies and Children

Did you know that it’s not just adults that can suffer from cavities? Many people don’t realise that children’s and even baby teeth can develop dental infections. When it comes to baby tooth decay it can often be a serious matter and is prone to spreading very quickly.

So when it comes to the younger generation what precautions can be put in place to prevent cavities and infections? We look at the steps below that can help babies and children get the best start in life when it comes to healthy teeth and gums.

But first let’s look at the bigger picture.

What Is Tooth Decay?

Decay is essentially your tooth breaking down and eroding, usually due to acidic damage and bacteria that lives in plaque.

You will first notice tooth decay in action when the surface of your tooth starts developing white spots where the calcium levels have been depleted and plaque has built-up. The build-up of acid from sugars you have consumed then causes the enamel to erode and breakdown.

If, by this stage you haven’t sought dental help then you will start to see the enamel break down completely and part of the tooth will break away. Bacteria and acids will continue to work on the tooth, and as soon as the enamel has been broken down the acids will work into the dentin part of the tooth which is where you will start to feel pain.

Finally the tooth will collapse and this is when you are likely to need a dental filling to fill the cavity that has been left.

Left It Too Late?

The stages after this start to get serious from a pain and tooth loss point of view. If the infection enters the pulp which is the central part of a tooth then you are likely to need root canal treatment.  Root canal therapy is a treatment used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or becomes infected. During a root canal procedure, the nerve and pulp are removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed. Without treatment, the tissue surrounding the tooth will become infected and abscesses may form.

Finally, the last stage is potential tooth extraction and infections that can enter the surrounding bones.

So How Can I Prevent Tooth Decay In My Children?

> Use breast milk, formula or water in baby’s bottle. Avoid giving children sweetened drinks or fizzy drinks and especially full fat drinks that contain high levels of sugar.

> Baby dummies: Now one thing new parents do and probably don’t realise the repercussions of it, is cleaning a dummy that has dropped on the floor by putting it in their own mouth. Doing this actually carries a lot more risk, and it is easy to transmit many germs and bacteria from your mouth to your little one’s mouth, some which are cavity causing germs. Wash the dummy and sterilise it.

> Eat Wisely: Provide healthy snacks to youngsters, such as meat, peanut butter, milk, yoghurt, cheese, fruits and vegetables. Calcium from cheese, yoghurts and milk will help strengthen teeth.

> For 2 to 5-year-olds, use a pea-size amount of toothpaste and perform or assist your child’s tooth brushing. See our article on 10 fun facts about your teeth for children.

> Before baby teeth appear, gently wipe gums and inside of the mouth every day, especially after feedings and before bed, with a clean, warm cloth.

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