A Pediatric Dentist Discusses Whether Child Tooth Decay is Completely Preventable

Pediatric dentists want you to know that your child can avoid the pain and discomfort of tooth decay with your help. Child tooth decay is preventable. Getting involved in a good oral hygiene routine is key to preventing childhood tooth decay. Pediatric dentists want to help you and your child develop those good habits from the first tooth.

How cavities develop in children

Cavities and tooth decay in children are far more common in children than many people realize. Some parents accept cavities in childhood as normal. By the age of four, more than one in every four children has at least one cavity — many children have more. The number of children who have a cavity by age 11 increases to almost half. It is not unheard of for cavities to develop almost as soon as teeth first erupt.

Children are prone to cavities without regular oral care. The enamel layer on baby teeth is thinner than on permanent teeth. When food sits on baby teeth, bacteria can grow and create an acidic environment in the mouth. Tooth decay can happen very quickly.

What children drink plays a major role in dental health. Babies who go to sleep with a bottle can develop cavities almost as quickly as the baby teeth erupt. Giving kids fruit juices and sodas also creates a sugary and acidic environment. Losing baby teeth because of cavities and decay can affect how permanent teeth grow. Cavities and tooth decay in baby teeth can also be very painful for children and cause speech and chewing difficulties.

At the dentist’s office

Pediatric dentists recommend that parents bring children in for the first dental appointment when the first teeth appear. In most children, this happens around six months of age. The dentist will do a visual inspection of the baby’s mouth and check to see the first teeth are coming in properly. The dentist will also discuss the teething process with parents to determine if there are any issues out of the ordinary.

Diet plays a role in the oral health of children, even as young as six months. Starchy and processed foods promote tooth decay at any age. The dentist will discuss the child’s diet and eating habits and can make recommendations for better choices. Some fruits and vegetables that are crunchy can naturally clean teeth, but these are not a substitute for brushing.

Parents can take an active role in oral health from the beginning. The pediatric dentist can show parents how to wipe the baby’s first teeth and gums with a clean piece of gauze. As more teeth erupt, the baby can graduate to a toddler toothbrush. Parents will probably have to brush their child’s teeth or closely supervise for several years.
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The pediatric dentist is a resource

The tooth decay takeaway is that good oral care starts in infancy. Your baby needs you to take an active role in dental care. Partnering with a pediatric dentist is a great way for you to get support and ensure good oral development for your child. The pediatric dentist can help you prevent tooth decay in your child.

Request an appointment or call Camelback Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics at 602-595-3531 for an appointment in our Phoenix office.

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