In recent years, the prevalence of tooth decay in children’s primary teeth has been on the rise. In the past, many people held the misconception that since primary teeth will eventually be replaced by permanent teeth, tooth decay in primary teeth shouldn’t matter that much. If you’ve ever had this thought, now let’s correct this misconception together! The impact of tooth decay in children’s primary teeth can affect their oral health for a lifetime!
Early Signs of Tooth Decay in Toddlers
According to statistics, nearly one-third of children brush their teeth fewer times than recommended per day, and nearly four in ten children lack the crucial habit of brushing their teeth before bedtime. Additionally, due to the underdeveloped hand muscles in toddlers, it can be difficult to reach every corner even with brushing, leading to the accumulation of food residue, milk remnants, and bacteria, resulting in tooth decay. Although tooth decay in children can be frightening, there are some early signs that parents can identify to determine if their child’s teeth require improved oral care.
Discoloration of Teeth
One of the most noticeable external indicators is the color of the teeth. Parents may have noticed how pure and white their baby’s teeth were when they first appeared. If the teeth’s color starts to turn yellow, gray gaps appear between adjacent teeth, or brown-black lines appear on the surface, it’s time to start preventing tooth decay!
Calcium Loss at the Gum Line
Frequent consumption of sweets and sugary beverages, combined with inadequate brushing habits, can lead to white spots at the gum line. If left untreated, these spots can turn into coffee-colored or black cavities. These areas are often less visible, making them difficult to detect. Parents should conduct regular checks on their children’s teeth to identify early signs of tooth decay.
Surface Irregularities and Deformation
In the initial stages of tooth decay, bacteria invade the tooth’s surface. Therefore, if you notice that the tooth’s surface is no longer as smooth as before, or if there are pits and irregularities, be attentive, as severe tooth decay might be close.
Decreased Tooth Hardness
This characteristic is usually difficult for parents to identify on their own. During regular dental check-ups, dentists can use probes to test the tooth’s hardness. If the tooth is softer than usual, it’s a red flag for tooth decay.
What to Do if Your Child Has Tooth Decay
“Tooth decay” can vary in severity, and different degrees of decay require different approaches for treatment. The tooth’s structure consists of enamel (tooth enamel), dentin (tooth dentin), pulp chamber (nerve and blood vessels), alveolar bone, and root canal. As a result, the treatment approach depends on the extent of decay and the specific structures affected.
- Mild Tooth Decay – Enamel Decay: Parents who regularly monitor their child’s teeth usually notice mild tooth decay at this stage. If the child practices thorough oral hygiene and proper brushing, the teeth may remineralize and recover. This stage is not likely to have a significant impact.
- Moderate Tooth Decay – Dentin Decay: At the moderate stage of decay, visible signs on the tooth’s surface become more apparent. However, some cavities might be located in the gaps between teeth and are harder to detect. Moderate tooth decay often requires dental fillings or other interventions.
- Severe Tooth Decay – Pulp Decay: When tooth decay reaches the severe stage, children may experience noticeable toothaches. As decay becomes deeper, dentists might consider whether extraction is necessary.
Regardless of the severity of tooth decay, it can have implications for the child’s permanent teeth. Research as early as 1986 indicated that children with a history of tooth decay in primary teeth are more likely to experience recurrent cavities even after receiving dental treatment. Another study found that more than 90% of children with childhood tooth decay continued to have cavities in their permanent teeth, compared to over 80% of those without a history of childhood tooth decay. This emphasizes that tooth decay in primary teeth is no longer just a childhood issue. Preventing tooth decay is essential for both primary and permanent teeth.
Two Key Steps to Preventing Tooth Decay in Children
- Thorough and Correct Toothbrushing: Remember the rule, “Brush your teeth at least twice a day (preferably after each meal) and definitely before bedtime.” This is especially important for children who have the habit of drinking milk before sleep. Neglecting to brush can lead to bacterial growth over time, increasing the risk of tooth decay.
- Choose Safe and Natural Antibacterial Toothpaste: When selecting toothpaste for preventing tooth decay, the first consideration should be its ingredients. The “Babysassi Who is the Baby” toothpaste set is specifically designed for infants and children aged 0-9 during teething and tooth replacement. It includes three types of children’s foam toothpaste and five flavors of children’s mouth spray, providing a variety of options for daily oral care that kids can look forward to.
Using foam toothpaste can thoroughly clean hard-to-reach areas between teeth, effectively combating bacteria. Following this, a mouth spray can provide double protection. With these steps, children will no longer resist brushing their teeth.
Remember the mantra: “Brush, rinse, and spray.” Have you all learned it? These steps are suitable for both children and adults. Let’s all maintain healthy teeth and confident smiles!