Early childhood caries: what is it and how can it be prevented?

Early childhood caries: what is it and how can it be prevented?

Early childhood caries is a severe form of tooth decay that develops on baby teeth before the age of 6. When children eat or drink sugary foods, the sugar that sticks to their teeth favors the growth of bacteria. These bacteria then transform these sugars into acidic components, which affect the tooth and cause decay. Once a cavity has started, it worsens more rapidly on baby teeth. It is often painful and can interfere with a child’s sleep and diet.

Early childhood tooth decay is often caused by drinks such as milk, juice and breast milk. For instance, a bottle of milk or juice should not be left in your baby’s crib so he can fall asleep. The liquid will remain in his mouth in small quantities and will be in contact with his teeth all night long, thus contributing to the formation of cavities. Treating cavities in very young children is more complex, and often requires general anesthesia.

Cavity prevention

To prevent cavities, it’s important to follow good dental hygiene habits and have your child seen by a dentist before the age of 1, or within 6 months of the emergence of his or her first tooth. At Clinique dentaire Beaulieu, Lapointe et associés, our dentists do their best to give children a pleasant experience during their first visit, but it’s very common for them to cry, and that’s normal. Your child will sit on top of you, which will reassure him, and we’ll proceed with a visual examination of his teeth. At the end, we’ll give him a toothbrush and floss picks. He can also choose a surprise from our treasure chest.

The importance of a visit to the dentist

Some might think that decay on baby teeth is less serious, since they’ll eventually fall out. However, a decayed baby tooth left untreated can infect the adult tooth that is forming under the gum. Baby teeth also act as a guide for adult teeth, giving them enough room to erupt in the right place. So it’s essential to keep them in good condition by visiting the dentist at least once a year with your child to examine his or her mouth and maintain good oral health.

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