Tooth decay in children’s teeth

What is dental decay?

Tooth brushing is an important defense against tooth decay in childrenDental decay is a disease of the teeth caused by bacteria.  Known in the dental community as caries, decay results in ‘holes’ or ‘cavities’ occurring in the tooth as a result of the bacterial activity.  When decay is mild, it may only cause mild discomfort in the child’s tooth, but when it is advanced, it can result in terrible toothache, and even infection.

Dental decay is Australia’s most common health problem.  Here are some facts regarding its impact:

  • Nearly 50% of children aged 5-6 years of age will experience dental caries
  • Approximately 45% of children aged 12 years or over had a history of dental decay in their permanent teeth.
  • Dental caries has five times the prevalence of that of asthma among children
  • It is estimated that poor dental health in children contributes to 600,000 days lost from school
  • The number of children aged 0-8 years of age in SA requiring a general anaesthetic for dental disease is approximately 1,800.

The most concerning conclusion from the facts mentioned above is that dental caries is a 100% preventable disease in ALL children.

What causes tooth decay in children?

Decay is caused by bacteria that live in the mouth.  Not every child develops decay, and not every child needs to!  The bacteria can be kept under control by…

  • Having a diet that is low in sugar.  Decay bacteria needs sugar to cause trouble, and so starving them of sugar through having a diet low in sugar, greatly reduces the risk of decay.
  • Brushing twice daily with a fluoridated toothpaste.  Brushing in younger children must be supervised by an adult to ensure that all the teeth are cleaned well.  A lot of decay in children’s decay occurs in the back molars, which are the teeth hardest for a child to clean!
  • Regular visits to the dentist or oral health therapist.

Tooth decay in children is an ongoing process and the longer it is left the more damaging (and expensive) it becomes.How do I treat dental decay in my kids?

When decay has already started in a tooth, the bacteria needs to be cleaned out.

This is usually done by performing a filling, where the “diseased” tooth structure is removed and replaced with a dental material. Decay is an ongoing process, and the longer it is left the more damaging (and expensive) it becomes. If the bacteria is left there long enough it has the potential to reach the nerve of the tooth.  If the bacteria reaches the nerve, it will likely result in your child experiencing a toothache (which means infection is present), meaning the treatment becomes far more complex for your child and can even eventuate in tooth loss.

Early loss of teeth due to decay may lead to spacing problems with the adult teeth later on. It may also affect your child’s chewing and overall appearance (and therefore confidence) before their adult teeth arrive. This is why we believe…

At Adelaide Quality Dental we believe that prevention is better than cure!

Having your child’s baby teeth checked regularly is essential to make sure there is no decay, and if there is, that it is dealt with early on.

For more information about looking after your child’s dental health and why this is so important see our article on Basic facts about your child’s teeth.

If you would like your child’s teeth checked with a dentist or our oral health therapist, please call Adelaide Quality Dental on (08) 8346 3940.