Cavities, also known as caries, are one of the most common dental health issues faced by children worldwide.
Over 43% of children face cavities. As a parent, it is important to know if your child is at risk for tooth decay, what to do about it, and if you need to visit a pediatric dentist.
What is tooth decay?
Essentially, tooth decay is the breakdown of the tooth enamel. The enamel is the outer protective layer of the teeth that protects against damage. Harder than bone, the enamel protects against everything your teeth might be exposed to whether it is physical or chemical.
However, it is possible for the enamel to be damaged and eroded over time. Over time, the eroded enamel leads to cavities in the teeth which in turn can lead to severe pain, infection, and tooth loss if not treated in time. A pediatric dentist will treat tooth decay with a dental filling, dental crowns, or even remove the tooth if it is severely damaged.
Symptoms of tooth decay
It is important to be able to recognize the symptoms of tooth decay and when to see a pediatric dentist or even a regular dentist as adults can also get tooth decay. You or your child might have cavities if they experience any of the following symptoms:
· Toothache without any direct cause
· Tooth sensitivity to hot and cold food
· Holes or indentations in your teeth
· Staining or spots on the teeth
In the case of children, they might also exhibit:
· Unexplained crying or fussiness
· Trouble eating
If your child is exhibiting any of the following symptoms, visit a kids dentist immediately. The best way to prevent serious tooth damage is to catch it early.
What causes tooth decay?
Tooth decay is caused by the excessive buildup of dental plaque in your teeth. The bacterium in your mouth maintains a delicate balance, and once affected it can cause permanent damage to your teeth.
The excess bacteria in your mouth react with certain food to create acid which erodes the tooth enamel. The primary foods that cause tooth decay are sugary items and carbohydrates. Acidic drinks like sodas, citric drinks can also cause cavities in teeth if not consumed properly.
Children are more prone to eating sugary treats and carbohydrate-heavy snacks. Items like chocolates, candies, chips, orange juice, and all manner of sweet things can cause harm to their teeth.
At your regular dental checkup, a kids dentist will be able to see whether your kids are developing cavities.
What are the risk factors for tooth decay?
Frequent snacking: Taking certain snacks as well as periodic snacking throughout the day puts you more at risk for tooth decay. Frequent snacking means that your teeth are exposed to acid constantly.
Poor dental habit: Infrequent and improper brushing can lead to the buildup of plaque in your mouth.
Lack of fluoride: Fluoride helps to replenish the lost minerals in our teeth. It can be found in toothpaste, mouthwash, as well as certain drinks.
Dry mouth: Our saliva helps clean and wash away the plaque in our mouth. Low amounts of saliva put you at increased risk of getting cavities.
How to prevent tooth decay?
Fortunately, tooth decay can be prevented with good oral habits and regular checkups at a pediatric dentist.
· Brush regularly with fluoride toothpaste
· Avoid frequent snacking
· Eat food that is good for your teeth like fresh fruits and vegetables
· Teach good oral hygiene to your kids