Home Dental careKids Early Childhood Caries: Origin, Prevention & Treatment

Early Childhood Caries: Origin, Prevention & Treatment

by Tijana

Even children’s teeth can suffer from caries. This is a problem because, with young children, treatment is often difficult. Therefore, it is best not to make any holes in children’s teeth. Here you can find out more about how cavities develop, how you can prevent it for your child, and what is the best milk teeth treatment procedures.

How do cavities develop in the milk teeth?

Cavities are a bacterial infectious disease. When cavities occur with children, that means it has infected them with the corresponding bacteria as a toddler.

Step 1: The caries infection

The infection occurs during saliva exchange. For example, every time you lick the child’s spoon, insignificant amounts of saliva gets into the child’s mouth. The saliva contains bacteria that can cause caries.

Step 2: Spreading of bacteria

Even if your child does not have teeth, the bacteria can multiply. Bacteria feel particularly well if we feed them with sugar because in that case, they have time to spread.

Step 3: Creation of the holes

When the first teeth come through the gums, the microorganisms settle on the teeth. If your child now ingests sugar, it produces acid which attacks the enamel. The milk teeth can withstand a short acid attack, but if the acid is present over a longer period, it produces holes.

The major reason kids have caries are: Sugar & poor dental hygiene

The development of caries is caused by four factors:

  • there must be bacteria present
  • there are teeth in the mouth
  • the bacteria need sugar
  • the acid produced by the bacteria must act over a longer period

The high sugar consumption is the major reason for decayed milk teeth. If we then add poor dental care to this, holes are pre-programmed.

How to Keep Your Child’s Teeth Healthy?

1. Regular tooth brushing

Just like with adults, good oral hygiene is essential for healthy teeth with children. Whether milk teeth or permanent teeth: plaque and microorganisms are must remove while brushing teeth.

2. Prevent infection with caries

To avoid caries in milk teeth, children must not get infected by their parents. Since the oral flora only manifests itself in the first years of life and there are not enough positive microorganisms, caries germs can easily settle down.

Therefore, do not lick your child’s spoon or pacifier.

3. No sweet drinks from feeding bottles

Toddlers usually take up sugary drinks, such as juice, through a drinking bottle. Since the sugar hits the teeth directly and the drinking opening remains in the child’s mouth for a longer period, the microorganisms have a lot of time to digest the sugar in the drinks. The resulting acid damages the tooth enamel.

Especially when small children fall asleep with a sugary drink in the bottle, the microorganisms can process the sugar into acid throughout the night and attack the teeth. This nocturnal consumption of sugary drinks through a teat bottle increases the risk of tooth decay immensely. This caries caused by nightly sucking of sweet drinks is called “Nursing-Bottle-Syndrome”.

To keep the risk of tooth decay as low as possible, we recommend it not to give your child any sweet drinks at all, such as lemonades or juices. In addition, absolutely avoid that sugary drinks affect your child’s teeth over a longer time, such as at night.

4. Perceive early detection examinations

Since 2016 there is a new children’s guideline. This includes two early detection examinations per year for children between 6 months and 6 years of age for whom a dental child card is issued.

During the examinations, children can get used to the visit to the dentist, and also, the teeth are cleanly fluoridated. In addition, they give parents detailed advice.

5. From 6 years on doing individual prophylaxis at the dentist

From the age of 6, children should visit the dentist at least twice a year for prophylaxis.

Here you will learn how best to brush your teeth and how to optimize your dental care. Under certain circumstances, even the smallest holes can also be detected and treated at an early stage. In addition, the dentist can decide whether it is necessary to seal the permanent molars to avoid cavities.

Summary: Pay attention to the children’s teeth

Especially with children, the therapy of caries is often difficult. That is why parents should pay very close attention to the children’s teeth. Regular tooth brushing and reduced sugar consumption can prevent the development of caries.

Please also note that children can only brush their own teeth from the age of 8 years. Younger children need the help of their parents to cleanse their teeth.

Read here what else you should know about milk teeth.

The therapy of caries in milk teeth

Since milk teeth fall out on their own at a certain point of time, the treatment of caries in children’s teeth differs from that of adult teeth. However, as with adults, a distinction should be made between tooth preservation measures and tooth removal.

Tooth preservation measures: Fillings, crowns, etc.

The aim of tooth conservation measures is to keep the affected tooth in the child’s mouth as long as possible. In the best case, it will fall out on its own.

We can treat milk teeth that are affected by small caries with a filling. Dentists often use different filling materials for milk teeth than for permanent teeth. These materials are less exposed to moisture during processing and are applied more quickly. Fillings are almost always placed to children without anesthesia.

If a deep caries is present, it is possible that germs have penetrated the tooth nerve. Here, a part of the dental does not need nerve to remove. The dentist opens the tooth under anesthesia and removes the upper part of the nerve. He then inserts a medication and closes the tooth again.

Sometimes the dentist cannot remove complete caries without opening the nerve, or the child refuses the treatment with the drill. Here, children crowns are used.

To do this, the tooth should be cleaned first. Then the dentist has a selection of prefabricated steel crowns from which he chooses the most suitable crown. The chosen crown should then be bonded to the affected tooth. This form of therapy has the advantage that the caries is cured. Caries remaining under the crown thus becomes inactive, and the milk tooth can remain in the child’s mouth until it falls out.

Removal of the tooth

Milk teeth, whose dental nerve has died, often cause recurring inflammation. Pain, swelling, and fever can accompany these. We should remove milk teeth that repeatedly cause inflammation. With most of the children, we can perform tooth extraction under local anesthesia. In exceptional cases, anesthesia or narcosis is necessary for the procedure.

Treatment under anesthesia

Since children often do not yet understand the purpose of the treatment, the dentist must be sensitive. If treatment is still not possible, they can carry it out under anesthesia. The parents must often pay this. Because of the risk of anesthesia, however, it should only be done in exceptional cases. Alternatives to general anesthesia are laughing gas or hypnosis.

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