Tooth decay is the most common pathology affecting children. It is the formation of a permanently damaged area inside a tooth. It can occur on a baby's first teeth or on a toddler's milk teeth. Although these teeth are not permanent and will eventually fall out, children's cavities should not be overlooked. Discover the main causes of tooth decay in children, the treatments available and our advice on how to prevent them.
What causes cavities in children?
Children's teeth have a peculiarity: the enamel is fragile because it is still growing. What's more, little ones rarely like to brush their teeth, or don't brush thoroughly. Add to this the regular consumption of sweets, and it's not hard to understand why children are sensitive to tooth decay. dental caries. The bacteria responsible for dental plaque find a favorable breeding ground in baby teeth.
As plaque accumulates, it becomes mineralized and transforms into tartar. Over time, tartar attacks the enamel and forms a cavity on the surface or in the tooth. Normally, regular tooth brushing and interdental cleaning largely eliminate plaque. Visit Swiss Society of Dentists SSO recommends that children brush their teeth twice a day for at least two minutes.
A child who doesn't brush his or her teeth well or enough is likely to develop cavities. As a general rule, your toddler can't brush effectively until he's 6 years old. This daily gesture must therefore be supervised or carried out by an adult.
Ask a dentist in Fribourg or Lausanne for advice on adapting the brushing techniques to your little one's age. From moist compresses to special toothbrushes and children's toothpaste, you'll learn how to use the right products.
Overall, there are three factors that contribute to the development of cavities in children:
- poor oral hygiene
- an unbalanced diet rich in sugar (sweets, cakes, cookies, ice cream, etc.)
- a genetic predisposition to brittle enamel in certain individuals (according to some studies)
How do you treat children's cavities?
Treatment of tooth decay in children depends on the situation.
- The caries is superficial: the dentist suggests sealing the grooves or remineralizing the enamel.
- The dentin is affected: the professional first removes the infected areas. He then fills the cavity with a grey amalgam, commonly known as a "filling". For a more aesthetic result, a white adhesive composite can be used.
- Deep caries: the dentist can perform pulp capping to keep the tooth alive.
- The dental pulp is severely damaged: in this case, the tooth must be devitalized and a crown placed.
Your dentist will do everything in his power to save your decayed tooth, even if it's a baby tooth. If necessary, these treatments can be carried out on baby teeth. When tooth extraction is unavoidable, the dentist will make sure to leave enough space for the permanent tooth to grow in properly.
Dental surgeries in Fribourg and Lausanne offer a variety of ways to relax your child during treatment. If your toddler has several cavities, your dentist will undoubtedly suggest several appointments. In some cases, anaesthesia is essential. Ask your dentist for more information.
How can you prevent tooth decay?
Preventing cavities involves three simple rules:
- Teach your child how to maintain complete oral hygiene.
- Offer a balanced diet and avoid sugar-rich foods and drinks.
- Visit the dentist as soon as your baby's first tooth emerges, and then every 6 months.
Don't forget to take care of your baby's oral health. Even if he doesn't yet have any teeth, you need to clean his gums to eliminate bacteria. To do this, you can use a moistened compress after each meal.
How can you tell if your child has a cavity?
Tooth decay is not always accompanied by symptoms. It's therefore difficult for parents to spot. However, there are certain signs that can alert you:
- dark or white spots on a tooth
- crying for no reason
- tooth sensitivity to cold foods or drinks
- loss of appetite
- swelling of the mouth
- unusual agitation or, on the contrary, sluggishness
If in doubt, we recommend that you seek professional advice immediately. The HELVIDENT team includes dentists specialized in pediatric dentistry. Our dental clinics are located in Lausanne, Fribourg and Aigle. Contact us to make an appointment.