Healthy teeth are an essential part of a healthy childhood.
Dental health plays a vital role in the growth and overall health of children. Teeth are important for the development of speech in a child and help the toddler chew newly introduced solid food.
Dental caries or early childhood caries is a common chronic disease observed in toddlers. All over the world, 50% percent of children below 5 years are affected by dental caries. The cavities appear as painful holes in the teeth or may appear as white spots due to demineralization of the tooth enamel.
According to various research studies, toddlers with caries in their teeth (baby teeth) are at a high risk of developing cavities in their permanent teeth. Dental health in childhood has a significant impact on dental health in adulthood.
Infant oral hygiene and nutrition is crucial for healthy dentition and prevention of dental caries. A well-nourished child is likely to develop fewer or no dental problems as compared to an undernourished child.
Reasons for kids cavities
Early childhood caries commonly occur due to plaque, poor oral health, and excessive sugar in the food or liquids consumed by the baby.
- Plaque is a thin layer that forms on the tooth during the day. It contains bacteria, food particles, and saliva. Bacteria in the plaque break down food particles and form acid that destroys the sensitive tooth enamel in toddlers. Toddler tooth enamel erosion is a common dental problem caused by bacteria due to unclean teeth and poor oral habits.
- Frequent intake of foods with high sugar content like juices, sweets, sweetened milk, etc. is also a chief reason for dental cavities in toddlers. Sugar favors rapid growth of bacteria, especially when teeth are not clean.
- Saliva in the mouth converts carbohydrates into simple sugar. Therefore, foods rich in carbohydrates, fermented food items, etc. result in caries in toddlers with poor oral hygiene.
- Faulty feeding habits like bottle-feeding while putting the baby to sleep increase the risk of cavities in the toddler. Breastfeeding at night can also lead to cavities in babies after the eruption of the first tooth.
- Lack of poor nutrition results in underdeveloped enamel and weak teeth, which are prone to infection and subsequently cavities and caries.
- In some cases, bacterial infection is also transmitted to the toddler from an infected mother or caretaker. Dental health of the mother during pregnancy also plays a key role in the baby’s dentition.
Dental care for children
Effective dental care for children consists of:
1. Maintaining good infant oral hygiene
- Brushing teeth twice a day with toothpaste that contains fluoride, in toddlers who can spit out the toothpaste, helps in the treatment and prevention of caries.
- Water containing fluoride, fluoride varnishes and sealants are also helpful in preventing caries in toddlers.
- Wiping the gums of your baby with warm cloth regularly before dentition keeps dental cavities at bay.
- Using floss to clean teeth in older toddlers prevents plaque formation.
- Removing the decayed portion of the teeth followed by filling the cavity helps prevent the spread of infection to other teeth.
- Early preventive dental visits are essential for early detection and timely treatment of cavities. Regular visits to a dentist should begin with the eruption of the first tooth.
2. Providing proper nutrition is an important element of kids dental care. This includes:
- Supplements containing vitamins and minerals like calcium and fluorine that strengthen teeth and bones in toddlers.
- A balanced diet with limited amount of sugar that is beneficial for infant oral hygiene.
3. Following good dietary habits is essential for maintaining oral hygiene for kids.
- Avoid feeding your toddler sugary foods often.
- Do not let your baby sleep with a feeding bottle containing juice or sweetened milk.
- Use a sipper instead of a bottle for your toddler once he/she is 1 year old.
- Do not give pacifiers to the baby for a long time, especially pacifiers with honey or other sweetening agents.
Also read: Dental Care In Children
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