What Parents Need to Know about Early Tooth Decay

What Parents Need to Know about Early Tooth Decay

Tooth decay in young children is a potentially serious condition. A simple visit to Hyde Park Dental Care can be the best prevention.

Why does tooth decay in children occur?

Early tooth decay in toddlers and young children occurs for a number of reasons. Oral bacteria can be transferred from parent to child via saliva which is shared by exchanging utensils and dummies etc.

If you are sharing saliva in one way or another and then letting your child suckle on milk and other drinks, this will cause the natural sugars to be metabolised by the bacteria you have transferred. Drinks ‘feed’ the bacteria with sugar molecules which produce lactic acid which can eat away at the enamel and dentine of your child’s teeth. If this continues over time severe decay will occur, especially in children as baby teeth have a higher risk of developing decay which spreads more quickly than in adult teeth. This can be very difficult to treat, not to mention set your child up for a lifetime of dental health problems which can be painful and expensive.

Preventing tooth decay in children can be as simple as brushing teeth after every meal (especially if something sugary was consumed) and flossing between teeth as just brushing won’t remove all the bacteria, acid and sugar that has been built up around the teeth. As simple as consuming fluoridated water and using toothpaste that contains fluoride can also be excellent ways to help prevent tooth decay in children and babies. If ever unsure, its always best to contact your dentist as they can give you the correct advice and also point you into the correct direction.

Three ways to prevent tooth decay in children:


Signs of tooth decay


Early tooth decay generally occurs with discolouration of the teeth as well as when white chalky areas start to develop. In the back teeth, discolouration is generally found in the crevices of the biting surface of the teeth. Cavities occur here as plaque and food debris will naturally be caught in the deep crevices in your teeth. This is why many dentists recommend fissure sealants which seal the deep crevices before any decay occurs.

Decay on the front teeth is often referred to as ‘bottle caries’. This generally occurs as the bottle forces the liquid to pool around the front teeth and has constant contact with these teeth.

Many children form a habitual addiction to their bottle or sippy cups which can be bad for their dental health unless they are drinking water. Toddlers and babies need milk and water, but juice and soft drinks should be avoided at all costs.  It is recommended to not let babies fall asleep with a bottle of milk or formula. Milk can pool around in the mouth and the lactose sugars feed the bacteria causing tooth decay. Since the saliva supply is low when the baby is asleep, it cant help to fight and protect against the damage from the bacteria.

What do I do if I think my child has bottle decay?

It’s important that you visit a dentist as soon as you notice any discolouration as early detection can help to prevent damage to your children’s teeth. You should also take your child to visit the dentist at the age of two for a general check-up. This can ensure that your child isn’t experiencing any form of dental decay.

Don’t let the state of your child’s teeth deteriorate like the examples above. It is important for your child to keep their baby teeth until it is time for them to naturally be replaced by adult teeth.  Baby teeth are important for eating, swallowing, speaking etc.  Early loss of baby teeth can result in a higher need for orthodontic treatment later on.

Dr Brian Joffe has many years of experience in treating children.  He has successfully dealt with anxious children in the dental chair, so don’t be nervous to seek help for this common problem. Visit Dr Joffe and his team at Hyde Park Dental Care located in Sydney CBD.

For more information about tooth decay in children, feel free to contact us at Hyde Park Dental Care today.

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