The top layer of the tooth is a tissue called “enamel.” Enamel begins to deteriorate when a bacteria called Streptococcus mutans, which grows on the teeth, forms an acid that decays a hole in the tooth. It then infests the tooth, continuing the decay inward. More types of bacteria grow inside the cavity, decaying the tooth even more, risking spread of the infection to the other teeth and also other parts of the body including the bone, heart, and brain.
Early Childhood Caries
is a disease that affects children 5 and under. The decay rate of baby teeth is faster than that of adult teeth and needs to be treated immediately. Early Childhood Caries (ECC) is most commonly caused by prolonged use of a bottle with juices, or milk, and prolonged breastfeeding. Cavities can also form from constant snacking on carbohydrates.
Foods that cause cavities
Carbohydrates from wheat, corn, potatoes, and other sugars, become glucose in the mouth. Glucose feeds the bacteria that cause cavities and the bacteria then produce an acid that wears away the tooth enamel (the hardest tissue in the body).
When should I brush my child’s teeth?
Even if your child doesn’t have teeth, it’s important to build healthy habits now. Gum massage is very enjoyable for babies.
As the teeth grow in, brush for your child, paying special attention to the back sides of the teeth, and then let your child hold and play with the toothbrush to build muscle memory and brushing habits.
Since a child’s hand dexterity is not good enough to brush effectively, it’s important to brush for your child until at least 5 years old.
What type of toothpaste for my child?
Training toothpaste is best until your child can spit the toothpaste out effectively. The fluoride that is in regular toothpaste can cause harm to your child if swallowed. When your child is old enough to spit the toothpaste out, use only a smear or LESS than a pea-sized amount of tooth paste each time they brush.
It’s important to see the dentist within 6 months of new teeth coming in so the teeth can be treated with a fluoride ion so that it will incorporate itself into the tooth tissue and create a stronger tooth.
Cavities are a bacterial infection inside the teeth. Infections can be painful and dangerous for your child and need to be treated. Pain from infections can alter sleep and behavior patterns and cause uncharacteristic mood swings, bad grades, poor appetite and lead to serious health complications such as access of the root or infections of the heart and brain.
Adult teeth are forming now! Early tooth loss can cause the adult teeth to become impacted and the surrounding teeth too drift apart. This can cause more decay and lead to expensive corrective treatments. Severe decay in the baby teeth can cause white spots to develop on the adult teeth.