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Top Causes of Tooth Decay in Children

Tooth decay, which can lead to cavities and other health issues, is an exceptionally common dental issue children face. But it can be concerning when you notice decay on your child’s teeth that could lead to them needing fillings and other dental procedures.

Headed by Hisham Merdad, BDS, DSCD, our pediatric dental team at Easy Dental Care in Gainesville, Virginia believes prevention is the best solution when it comes to tooth decay. Learn the top causes of tooth decay in children and what to do if you notice decay in your child’s teeth.

What is tooth decay?

Tooth decay occurs when the enamel breaks down. This can cause holes and decay in your child’s tooth, which can turn into problems such as cavities and infections.

Anyone can get tooth decay, but it’s especially common in children and teenagers. Once your child’s tooth has started to decay, it needs to be treated by a pediatric dentist to ensure no further complications develop.

The top reasons children experience tooth decay

Most of the top causes of your child’s tooth decay are related to lifestyle habits. These are some of the more common reasons children’s teeth decay.

Poor oral hygiene

Not regularly brushing children’s teeth is a top cause of tooth decay. Even before your child gets their first teeth, clean their gums daily with a washcloth. 

Once your child starts to get teeth, start out by carefully brushing their teeth daily with a small toothbrush. After your child turns two, begin brushing twice daily.

When brushing, make sure to carefully brush, or teach your older child to brush, every tooth thoroughly, including the back molars that are more difficult to reach. Your older child or teenager should also start flossing to ensure all decay-causing bacteria gets removed.

A diet high in sugar

Sugar accelerates tooth decay, and children often consume diets that are too high in sugar. Decay-inducing sugar can be found in sugary drinks, candy, and foods high in starch.

To reduce the sugar in your child’s diet, feed your child a balanced diet that limits candy, juice, and soda. Instead, give them water or milk. You should also avoid giving your young child a drink before bedtime, as drinks consumed right before sleeping are more likely to cause tooth decay.

Saliva sharing or production problems

If you or others share saliva with your child, it can transmit bacteria to your child that causes tooth decay. To prevent this, avoid sharing cups or utensils.

Some children also have lower saliva production than normal, which can lead to dry mouth and a higher risk of tooth decay. Our dental team can help find solutions that stimulate saliva in your child’s mouth.

Lack of fluoride

If your child doesn’t get enough fluoride, this can also raise the risk of tooth decay. This is most commonly a problem if your water supply doesn’t contain fluoride. Make sure to brush your child’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste, and our dentists can advise you on how to get your child adequate fluoride if it’s not in your water supply.

Treating tooth decay

The best way to treat tooth decay is through prevention. By promoting healthy brushing and flossing habits and feeding your child a low-sugar diet, you’ve dramatically reduced your child’s risk of developing tooth decay.

While promoting healthy lifestyle habits for your child, remember to stay up-to-date with dental cleanings at Easy Dental Care. It’s not always possible to see signs of tooth decay, so regular cleanings allow us to check on your child’s oral health and catch tooth decay early.

If your child has cavities from tooth decay, our dentists recommend the best procedure to eliminate it. Most often, this is a cavity filling, or your child might need a root canal or extraction if higher levels of decay are present.

To make an appointment to have your child’s teeth assessed or cleaned by the compassionate dental team at Easy Dental Care, call our office or request an appointment online today.

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