Children & Kids Cavities - Here's How To Protect Your Toddlers Teeth From Decay

Kiwi pre-school kids and toddlers need protection from tooth decay. Use these simple tips from dental experts to stop cavities in your childrens teeth

Not only adults but also children can be affected by tooth decay and cavities – and from a very early age. So to reduce the likelihood of later treatments and unexpected costs, keep your kids smiles happy and healthy by making sure you keep their teeth properly cleaned and flossed.  

We typically think of our children always having strong, healthy teeth, but recent reports are highlighting the incidence of tooth decay is occurring at an earlier age than ever before.  International and local research is now revealing children developing cavities in their primary teeth from ages 2 and up, according to USA’s National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research

Concerning for parents, the National Institute’s research indicates 42% of US children ages 2 to 11 years now develop a cavity in their primary (AKA milk or baby) teeth. The New Zealand surveys have also identified that more than 40% of 2-4-year-olds are also not being seen by a dental professional, and 44% of 5-year-olds have at least one decayed, missing or filled tooth.

Problematically, although free dental care is available for children up to 18 years and dental decay remains an irreversible disease here in New Zealand, many parents do not see oral health as a priority, only taking their children to a dentist in an emergency. 

Important Tips for Toddler Teeth

  • Although they eventually fall out, baby teeth are important - helping your child bite and chew food, and speak clearly. These first teeth also save space for the permanent teeth and help guide them into place. Children will eventually want to brush their own teeth, but afterwards you should brush your child’s teeth a second time to ensure they are thoroughly cleaned, as most aren’t capable of brushing them effectively on their own until they are 8 years or older.

  • Gently clean and floss your child's teeth twice daily (early in the morning and before bed) from 1 year – although avoid fluoride toothpaste until toddlers are capable of spitting it out without swallowing it.

  •  At some point, your child will want to brush his or her own teeth. It is important for children to learn to brush and it's great to give your child a turn, but afterwards, you should always brush your child’s teeth a second time. Most children won’t be able to effectively brush their teeth on their own until they are about 8 years old.

  • Don’t forget to check your child’s teeth regularly to detect dental decay. To do this, check for chalky white spots or lines on the tooth near the gum line by lifting back the lips. If there are signs of decay, take your child for a check-up. Free dental care is available and checks are recommended from 9 months old (or before their first birthday).

  • Early Childhood Caries can be caused by regular sticky sugary foods and drinks. Avoid sugary foods between meals, (they are best eaten only at mealtimes) and encourage your children to drink water during and at the end of meals to rinse any remaining sugars in the mouth.


Treating Tooth Decay in Toddlers

Unfortunately, if your child does develop tooth decay or cavities, dental work will be required to prevent the bacteria from spreading - either fillings to correct smaller cavities or a full crown if the damage is significant.

Decayed teeth may require extraction to prevent the bacteria causing the secondary (adult) teeth developing abnormally. Pitting or staining in the secondary (adult) teeth can occur if the decay is severe in primary teeth.

It’s important to develop good long-term oral hygiene and health habits, beginning with your child’s baby teeth. Although your toddlers teeth are temporary and will fall out, it’s important to pay them care and attention. Ensure your children are protected from cavities at an early age.

The habits you start early for your child's baby and adult teeth are important. Although your toddler's teeth will fall out, don’t ignore their care.

For a healthy smile throughout their lifetime, make sure your children’s teeth are protected from cavities at an early age.  Contact us now to discuss your children's dental health and how we can help.

Posted by Andrea

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