Early Childhood Caries is not self-limiting and if there is a delay in the treatment the condition worsens. This also leads to a difficulty in the treatment. If not treated then one of the first few consequences is pain which affects the child’s day to day activities like eating, sleeping and playing. In case of a severe form of the disease, there is a loss of the front teeth at an early age. This leads to a setback in speech as these being the important years for the development of speech.
Childhood tooth decay is very common and almost 20% of children are left with untreated cavities. But here are ten commandments to reduce and prevent cavities:
- Importance of Dental Care: Teach your child the importance of dental care. Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day is a key to a shiny set of pearls.
- Avoid Sharing: We all know sharing is fun … but since the oral bacteria spread through sharing food and beverages, we must talk to our children about the same. Swapping drinks can easily swap the bacteria also.
- Reduce the Starchy Foods: Eating foods rich in starch like wafers, crackers and potato chips tend to get stuck in teeth. When proper brushing is not done then there is an increase in the levels of plaque in the mouth. Plaque is usually acid eroding which attacks the enamel. Try to barter these foods with a healthier option.
- Avoid Fizz Drinks: Soft drinks and aerated drinks are a big no-no. These harm the enamel by reducing its surface hardness. Fruit juices also damage the enamel. Reduce their consumption and make sure that your child rinses his mouth with water after a drinking a soft drink.
- Avoid Baby Bottles: Agreed that baby bottles comfort the child. But misusing the bottles can create a havoc in your child’s mouth. You should never offer juices and other sugary drinks in bottles as this increases the chances of caries, especially in the front teeth. Dilute the sugary drink with water and slowly increase water until they are only drinking water.
- Give a Miss to the Sticky Foods: Sticky foods like chocolates, honey, caramel stick easily on the teeth. These can be difficult to remove by children, thereby, leading to tooth decay due to the acid formation on the tooth.
- Up the Intake of Fruit and Vegetables: Serving fresh fruit and vegetables with high water content keeps your child’s mouth to be hydrated. Also, the crisp vegetables help by increasing the production of saliva, in turn reducing the bacteria which stick on the teeth.
- Drink Water: Guzzling water is a good habit and is also a great and effortless way of preventing cavities in children. Water helps to flush out the bacteria. It also prevents the acid from sticking on the teeth.
- Add Dairy to the Child’s Diet: Dairy products like cheese, yoghurt and milk help in uplifting the enamel strength. Since enamel is the first layer of the tooth, it is very important to keep it strong. Dairy products are rich in casein. This helps to protect the enamel by neutralising the damaging effects caused by the acids on the teeth.
- Regular Dental Visits: As soon as your child gets his first tooth, get an appointment with the dentist. A routine check-up every six months should be scheduled. A consistent and regular oral care helps in the prevention of caries.
Early childhood caries can be easily avoided and controlled with correct skills and information. An attempt to make a connection with the dentist helps enormously. Also, when caries is captured at an earlier stage, it can be promptly treated and this helps in improving the oral and overall health of the child.