Caries, also known as tooth decay, is caused when plaque accumulates on the teeth. The bacteria in plaque produce an acid that eats away at tooth enamel, creating cavities. Caries are more common in children than adults.
The term “early childhood caries” refers to a cavity or decay that affects a child’s baby teeth, typically between the ages of 1 and 6. This is the most common form of tooth decay in young children. It can occur in both primary teeth—the ones that your child first gets—and permanent teeth that come in later. Early childhood caries can be quite painful for your child, so it’s important to take the proper steps to prevent it from happening to your son or daughter.
Childhood caries is caused by a diet high in sugar and starch and a lack of adequate oral hygiene. Bacteria in the mouth feed on this sugar to produce acids that can erode the tooth enamel and cause cavities. Introducing solid foods to your baby’s diet can make them more prone to developing early childhood caries because these foods often contain a lot of sugar. Dry foods and crackers are also at risk of causing early childhood caries because they tend to stay in the mouth longer, allowing more time for bacteria to feed on their sugars and produce acids. A lack of proper oral hygiene can also increase your risk of early childhood caries. Many parents don’t realize the importance of regular brushing for infants, but establishing a good routine as soon as possible can help reduce the risk of early childhood caries, especially in children between 7 and 12 months old.
Early childhood caries is treatable with fillings, crowns, or extractions, but only if no permanent damage has been done to the tooth. If left untreated, it can affect the development of adult teeth and lead to further complications later on in life. When caught early, you can prevent these unwanted effects from occurring. To treat and prevent early childhood caries, you should establish a reliable oral care routine for your child that includes brushing their teeth daily with fluoride toothpaste after they turn two years old.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children should visit the dentist by the age of one or within six months after the first tooth erupts from the gums. Early childhood caries should be treated to prevent complications, such as infections that can spread to other parts of the body and cause serious health problems. When a child is sleeping, saliva production decreases, and the acid caused by bacteria in plaque can eat away at the teeth. If left untreated, tooth decay can cause severe pain for a child as well as long-term health and aesthetic problems. Untreated decay can also interfere with proper development and result in future problems with speaking, chewing, biting, teeth alignment, and the overall oral health of a child.
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