The most common chronic childhood disease in the United States (even more prominent than asthma) is tooth decay. Tooth decay, also known as cavities or caries, can affect children at any age – even infants and toddlers. Pediatric dentistry and cavity treatment for infants, toddlers, young children and teens is very common. Dr. Scott at Parkcrest can help your children with cavity treatment and prevention.
Cavities are caused by bacteria, which can be prevented with proper oral hygiene. Your mouth is constantly full of all kinds of bacteria. This bacteria bonds together and forms plaque that sticks to your teeth. The main bacteria that causes cavities is called Streptococcus mutans. Strep mutans break down sweet and starchy foods and produce acid, which erodes the enamel on your teeth. Your body naturally fights this acid with saliva, which works as a buffer to dissolve it and replace minerals that the acid has taken from your teeth. However, if the acid is allowed to stay in contact with your teeth for too long or too frequently, it eats away enough minerals and creates a hole in your tooth. That hole is a cavity.
In young infants or toddlers, Early Childhood Caries (or ECC) are common and cause rapid or severe destruction of baby teeth. These are often associated with children who are allowed to go to sleep while breast-feeding or bottle-feeding. The flow of saliva decreases at night, diminishing the natural, self-cleansing action of the mouth.
Another cause of ECC is frequent consumption of sugary liquids like soda, juice or sweet tea. ECC most commonly starts with the front teeth and works its way to the back. It can be so rapid and severe that sometimes the teeth need to be pulled or fixed with stainless steel crowns. These are common pediatric dentistry treatments for cavities.
While Baby Bottle Cavities tend to start in the front and work their way back, cavities in older children are more common the darker, more difficult to reach places of the mouth. The back molars, both in baby teeth and permanent teeth, have deep grooves and pits on the chewing surface. These pits create the perfect hiding place for bacteria that only careful, thorough, and frequent brushing can prevent. One preventative way to fight bacteria in these grooves is to apply dental sealants to the teeth. The application of dental sealants is also a service our pediatric dentist, Dr. Scott, provides.
Another location that is common for cavities is in the crevices between your teeth. It is almost impossible for toothbrush bristles to reach these spots, making them susceptible to cavities. As long as you’re flossing daily, the bacteria hiding here is no match.
Pediatric dentistry is an important step in establishing strong oral hygiene in your little one from an early age. Knowing the precautions to take and developing oral hygiene routines will help you and your child fight plaque and avoid cavities. Dr. Scott will help you instill those values in an inviting, warm and friendly atmosphere.