What should you know about “Early Childhood Caries” in kids


Tooth decay or cavities is one of the most common dental problems. The tooth decay can cause discomfort and pain on chewing. This can be more stressful in children. Your young one may not even be able to describe the pain.  Numerous studies have shown that tooth decay is the second most infection in your child. With more than two out of three children who suffer from tooth decay, what should you know about “Early Childhood Caries”.


Let’s know more from Dr Premila Naidu, Senior Pedodontist…………..


“The prevalence of cavities among children is more in the recent times. This is because of many factors that play a role in tooth decay. The dietary habits of your child, oral hygiene habits, deleterious oral habits and alignment of teeth…….all play a role in the process of tooth decay.”


What is the most common type of tooth decay in my child?

The most common type of Early Childhood Caries is called ‘Rampant Caries”.  Here, your child can have multiple teeth that are decayed. Of the 20 milk teeth in your child’s mouth, more than 50% of the teeth can be damaged. This damage can be at various stages, with either the front or back teeth that are carious. Children as young as 2 years of age can be affected. 


What causes tooth decay in my child?

Tooth decay is a multifactorial bacterial infection. Many factors like diet, oral hygiene, frequency of snacking and genetics (to an extent) play a key role. However, rampant caries in very young children is attributed to feeding habits. 


Says Dr Premila———“Whether your child is bottle fed or breast fed, if proper feeding methods and good oral hygiene habits are not followed, your child can have tooth decay before he turns an year old. Sugar plays a vital role in tooth decay. Using sweetened milk or water in your child’s feeding bottle increases the risk of your child developing tooth decay. In older children, generally, only chocolates are seen as sugary foods. But sugars can come in different forms like carbonated drinks, biscuits, soft refined foods, syrups and jams. Any food or snack that has sticky carbohydrates should be considered as a potential source of decay causing sugar.”


When should I take my child to the dentist?

Your child get his first tooth by 6 months of age. It is best to take you child to the dentist when your child’s first tooth erupts but not later than the first birthday. This is the right time for your dentist to detect any early cavities, feeding patterns and dietary habits of your child. Your dentist will also be able to guide you on the brushing  methods and other oral care precautions.


Dr Premila reaterates———“Checking your child early on helps us detect early cavities. Early intervention and treatment prevents further damage. This becomes the right time to start preventive measures like topical fluoride application or sealants for your child. These preventive measures go a long way in keeping your child’s teeth healthy. Also your child becomes familiar with his dentist and this helps create a healthy Patient-Dentist relationship.”


What can I do for decayed teeth in my child?

The treatment of a decayed tooth depends on the extent of damage. The preventive procedures include fluoride application and the use of sealants. For teeth that are in the initial stages of decay simple fillings should suffice. For deeper cavities a medicated filling that helps the tooth heal is done. Very deep cavities that have infected the pulp will require deep cleaning procedures like pulpotomy, pulpectomy or baby tooth RCT.


How can I prevent tooth decay in my child?

As tooth decay is a multifactorial disease, prevention of cavities should be aimed at different levels. 

Dr Premila advises———“Parents can follow these measures to ensure a healthy mouth and teeth for their children

Early visit to your dentist . This cannot be emphasised more. Taking your child to the dentist early on helps in building good child-Dentist relationship. You child will be in all likelihood more receptive and co-operative to treatment procedures. Your dentist also can start preventive measures and guide you on many aspects of dental health.

Dietary Habits. There are many aspects to your child’s diet and dietary habits. Avoid refined sugars and frequent snacking for your child. Also avoid sharing food with your little ones. Since bacteria is the main culprit in causing tooth decay, any substrate that promotes bacterial growth or transmission of bacteria should be avoided.

Good oral hygiene habits. Keeping your child’s teeth clean is of utmost importance. Cleaning the gum pads in infants, cleaning the surface of teeth or brushing with soft brushes in young children, brushing the teeth twice a day in older children is important. You can use age appropriate tooth pastes for your child.


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