Tooth decay in toddlers is expected due to the sugar most children consume and poor oral hygiene.
Decay results from plaque, a translucent film of bacteria mixed with sugar that covers your teeth and causes deterioration.
If left untreated, there is a possibility that teeth will chip, crack, loosen, and even dislodge. This is why it is essential to recognize the causes and symptoms of rotting teeth and treat them.
Symptoms of Tooth Decay in Toddlers
It is difficult to detect tooth decay, especially in its early stages, as certain cavities can sometimes go unnoticed. Therefore, the best way to maintain good oral health is to visit your dentist at least once every six months.
There are several symptoms connected to tooth decay, such as:
- Inflammation of the gums surrounding the affected tooth
- Sensitivity when exposed to hot or cold food or drinks
- Bad taste in your mouth
- Foul breath
- Spots on the tooth that are white, black, or brown
If your child cannot convey the problem, ask to check inside their mouth and look for any signs or make a dental appointment as soon as possible.
Signs of Tooth Decay in Toddlers
It is tough to detect tooth decay in toddlers, especially if it’s still in its early stages. However, there are sure signs you can look for when examining their mouths:
Stages of Tooth Decay in Toddlers
- If you see a dull white band across the tooth’s surface just above the gum line, this is the first stage of tooth decay in toddlers.
- If this band turns a brownish color, the decay has progressed to the next stage.
- Advanced decay takes over when the teeth turn brownish/black and stumpy.
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What are the Causes of Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay is a result of a lot of different factors. If you want to protect your little ones from having rotten teeth, you must avoid these causes:
When putting your precious buddle to bed at night, it is essential to avoid giving them any sugary drinks in their bottle. These drinks can include milk, juice, or formula. Some parents even dip their baby’s pacifiers in sugar or honey.
Sugar will form around your baby’s teeth which results in tooth decay. If your toddler needs a bottle at bedtime, try opting for water instead.
Lack of Fluoride
Fluoride is often used in dentistry to strengthen your tooth enamel, which helps fight off cavities. The USA adds fluoride to their tap water; however, if you do not have fluoride in your tap water or use fluoride toothpaste, you and your family are more susceptible to tooth decay.
Bad Dental Hygiene
Engrain good oral hygiene practices in your children. You can prevent tooth decay by brushing once in the morning and once before bed. In addition, floss daily and take your kids for professional teeth cleaning once every six months.
Children love sugary foods but try to limit these snacks as much as possible. These sugars stick to your teeth, inviting bacteria to convert them into plaque.
Sugary foods can increase the number of harmful bacteria in your mouth, which creates more acid. In addition, if your children eat a diet high in sugar and do not brush their teeth often, their enamel will deteriorate rapidly.
Avoid giving your children drinks with a high acid concentration, like soda or fruit juices, as this can also cause rotten teeth and acid reflux. Acid reflux is when stomach acid shoots up the esophagus and dissolves the tooth enamel into the mouth.
Uneven Teeth or Overcrowding
When your child has uneven teeth or overcrowding, it causes dental crevices that are hard to reach when brushing. Plaque thrives in this situation as it is never brushed away and will feed off the tooth’s surface, causing cavities.
If this is the case, speak to your dentist and find out if you can apply a dental sealant to healthy teeth to deter plaque buildup. You can also discuss the possibility of having your child’s misaligned teeth corrected to prevent any issues in the future.
A dry mouth happens when you can’t produce enough saliva to wash away the food particles, bacteria, and plaque in your mouth. As you can imagine, this results in immense plaque and acid build-up, making you more susceptible to tooth decay.
Treatment for Tooth Decay in Toddlers
There are different levels of tooth decay, and treatment will vary depending on what stage you are experiencing.
The Early Stages of Tooth Decay in Toddlers
Treating tooth decay in its early stages is relatively simple. For example, your trusted dentist might suggest a fluoride treatment to strengthen your tooth and add extra minerals. This process can reverse cavities but will only be successful in the early stages.
If your child’s teeth have progressed to a more advanced stage, this method will not be effective, and you will have to seek alternative treatments.
Advanced Stages of Tooth Decay in Toddlers
Once you start to see white or brown spots on your child’s teeth or notice a foul odor coming from their mouths, it is most likely an advanced stage of tooth decay.
The treatment for this stage is removing the decay and placing a filling or crown to fill up that empty cavity and strengthen the tooth.
Fillings mainly consist of:
- Composite resin
A tooth-colored filling that blends in well with your other teeth. Amalgam A filling is made from metal like mercury, silver, or gold.
Extremely Advanced Stage of Tooth Decay in Toddlers
If left untreated, tooth decay can seep into the center of your child’s tooth. Although children will lose their milk teeth, it is vital to treat them as any dental issues could cause problems to their permanent teeth when they emerge.
Treatment for this stage is generally a root canal. Your dentist will extract the infected pulp and nerves during this procedure, fill the cavity, and seal the tooth. However, if the infection is too severe for a root canal, your dentist might need to extract it.
It is difficult to identify tooth decay in toddlers, especially if it’s still early. However, you can look for signs, like white or brown spots on the teeth, bad breath, or sensitivity when eating or drinking hot or cold food/beverages.
By practicing good oral hygiene and visiting your dentist once every six months, you can avoid plaque build-up, which leads to tooth decay.