Tooth Decay in Children | Best Pediatric Dentist in Bangalore | Sakra World Hospital
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December, 2021

Tooth Decay in Children as a Parent What do You Need to Know

Tooth Decay in Children

Tooth Decay or Cavities are one of the most chronic infectious diseases of childhood. We come across some parents who ignore the early symptoms of tooth decay thinking they are baby teeth and the child will eventually lose these teeth. Do not make that mistake. If tooth decay is left untreated in children, baby teeth will be lost too early causing the teeth that are left to move and not leave any room for adult teeth to come in or worse it can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with speaking, chewing, eating and learning. 

Remember as a parent, you need to make sure your child’s oral hygiene is well maintained. Baby teeth are very important, if tooth decay is not prevented, it can lead to life-threatening infections during childhood or in the future. 

What causes tooth decay in a child? 

Tooth decay starts with Plaque - Plaque is a sticky substance that covers teeth, and it forms when bacteria in the mouth combine with food, acid, and saliva. Tooth decay takes place when a buildup of dental plaque along with the bacteria, eats tooth enamel and causes a hole. 

Tooth decay is majorly triggered by foods containing carbohydrates (sugars and starches) - foods such as soda, milk, cake, candy, fruit juices and bread. When these are left on the teeth, the bacteria that normally live in the mouth changes these foods, making acids. The combination of bacteria, acid, food and saliva form a substance known as plaque that sticks to the teeth. Over time, the bacterial acids eat away at the tooth enamel, resulting in cavities. 

Children do not know what oral hygiene is unless they are taught young until they pick the right habits, it’s very important for parents or caretakers to make sure your child is brushing his/her teeth regularly; if they are below the age of knowing how to brush you need to make sure you help them. 

Sometimes, tooth decay occurs when plaque and food particles aren’t removed from in between teeth. Parents need to help their children floss their teeth. 

How are cavities in kids treated? 

When children suffer from tooth decay, a dentist will make sure to save the tooth as losing a premature tooth can cause the permanent tooth to erupt incorrectly or cause pain and dental problems. During the procedure of treating cavities in children, the dentist removes the tooth decay and fills the hole with a dental filling (white composite or metal material). Fillings can be done on permanent teeth, as well as on baby teeth. 

In cases of severe tooth decay, the dentist might recommend a dental crown, which is typically silver in colour. In some cases, if the tooth is badly damaged or infected, the tooth may need an extraction. If your dentist extracts the tooth, they’ll keep the gap open with a space maintainer, which helps permanent teeth grow correctly.

During this entire procedure, it’s not easy for a child to sit through the pain - most dentists will use nitrous oxide or laughing gas to help children ease during the procedure. Talk to your dentist, before the procedure - Some dentists may also administer an injection to numb the gums, or orally sedate the child before the procedure. 

If the cavity is one small cavity, the procedure might require only one seating - However, if the child has multiple cavities, the appointments will be broken down and might require multiple seatings. 

What are the signs and symptoms of tooth decay in a child? 

Here are some of the symptoms your child might experience as a result of tooth decay. However, each child is different and can show different symptoms. 

  • Once the enamel starts to break down, white spots begin to form on the teeth on the affected area. 

  • When an early cavity appears on the tooth, it will have a light brown colour.

  • Deeper cavities will have a darker shade of brown or black. 

  • Pain in the area around the tooth 

  • Sensitivity to certain foods hot or cold drinks 

  • Bleeding gums 

  • Irritation and inability to eat well 

What do Parents do to prevent tooth decay or cavities in Children? 

For Babies - 

  • Wipe gums with a soft and clean cloth twice a day, after the first feeding and right before bed, to remove bacteria and sugars that can cause cavities.

  • When teeth come in, start brushing twice a day with a soft, small bristled toothbrush and plain water.

  • Once your baby is a year old, visit the dentists to spot signs of problems early.

  • As soon as the first teeth appear, check and talk to your dentist about applying fluoride varnish on your child’s teeth.

  • Never put your child to bed with a bottle or food in his or her mouth - this not only exposes your child's teeth to sugars but also puts your child at risk of choking.

For Children - 

  • Floss your child’s teeth every day after age 2. 

  • Brush your child’s teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. 

  • Make sure your child consumes a well-balanced diet.

  • Limit your child's consumption of sweet or sticky foods such as candy, gummies, soda, cookies.

  • Teach your child to gargle immediately after food 

  • Teach them the importance of oral health.

Tooth decay in children can be prevented if the above ways are followed. Talk to your child's doctor or Pediatric Dentist in Bangalore if you see any sign of decay in your child's teeth. With the right care, your child can grow up to have healthy teeth and a beautiful smile!




Dr Balasubramanya K.V

HOD & Senior Consultant - Periodontics

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