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Did you know tooth decay is a common chronic disease affecting children in the United States? And the older kids get, the more likely they are to have tooth decay, up to 67% in children aged 12 to 17.
Tooth decay (dental caries) can start early in the baby teeth of infants and young children. This condition can progress very quickly since the enamel of primary teeth is thinner than that of permanent teeth. While not the exclusive cause, early tooth decay is often associated with frequent feeding at nap time and bedtime, so be mindful and look below for some tips on your child’s good oral health.
There can be significant consequences of untreated cavities on children’s overall health and well-being. Left untreated, the pain and infection caused by tooth decay can lead to problems in eating, speaking and learning. It can also be costly when cavities are neglected, depending on the severity. Most important, the condition may also have a long-term effect on the child, as decay in the primary teeth is the biggest risk factor for cavities in permanent teeth. If teeth are lost due to cavities, it can result in a crooked bite later in life.
Babies are not born with the bacteria that cause tooth decay. These cavity-causing bacteria are transmitted from parent to the infant, often before the eruption of the first tooth. Because bacteria are transmitted through the saliva, sharing of utensils should be avoided.
Preventing tooth decay includes brushing your child’s teeth daily and reducing the amount and frequency of sugar eaten. It is also very important to have any existing dental decay removed from the teeth and to make sure the child is getting the amount of fluoride necessary to help prevent decay.
© Philips Oral Healthcare, Inc. 2012. All rights reserved.