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What is Tooth Decay in Children?

Tooth decay in children is one of the most common problems of oral and dental health. Tooth decay occurs when bacteria multiply in a sticky substance called plaque. Plaque consists of food residues and bacteria on the tooth surface. The bacteria ferment the sugars in the plaque to produce acids. These acids erode the enamel of the teeth and cause tooth decay.

What is Tooth Decay in Children?

Tooth decay in children is an oral and dental health problem caused by the erosion of the enamel layer of the teeth under the influence of acid. In order to prevent and treat tooth decay in children, regular dental examinations and teaching oral hygiene habits at an early age are important.

What are the Symptoms of Tooth Decay in Children?

Symptoms of tooth decay in children can be:

Tooth Sensitivity: The child may feel sensitivity or pain in the teeth when they come into contact with hot or cold food and drinks.

Stains on Teeth:
Cavities in Teeth: Decayed areas or cavities can form on the surface of the teeth. These cavities can grow over time.

Pain or Discomfort: Children may experience pain, discomfort or a stinging sensation due to tooth decay.
Bad Breath Tooth decay can lead to bad breath or bad odor in the mouth.

Difficulty Eating: Due to toothache or sensitivity, children may be reluctant to eat or may avoid certain foods.

Gum Problems: Your gums may be red, swollen or bleeding. This can be a sign of a gum infection.
Disturbed Night Sleep: Children may experience disturbed night sleep due to tooth decay.

What Causes Tooth Decay in Children?

The factors that cause tooth decay in children can be:

Inadequate Dental Hygiene: Children may not have developed good enough brushing and flossing habits. This causes a layer of bacteria called plaque to build up on the surface of the teeth and can lead to cavities.

Wrong Dietary Habits: Frequent consumption of sugary or acidic foods and drinks can increase the risk of tooth decay. Sugary snacks and carbonated drinks, which are especially popular with children, can accelerate the formation of tooth decay.

Fluoride Deficiency: Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens tooth enamel and provides resistance to acids. Fluoride deficiency can increase the risk of tooth decay. The use of toothpastes and mouthwashes containing fluoride can support children's dental health.

Nighttime Milk Bottle Use: If babies use a bottle with sugary drinks such as milk or juice overnight, it can increase the risk of tooth decay. Sugary liquids stay on the teeth for a long time and can cause decay.

Genetic Factors: Family history can influence a child's susceptibility to tooth decay. If tooth decay is common in the family, your child may be at increased risk.

Lack of Oral Hygiene Habits: It is important that children acquire the habits of brushing and flossing at an early age. When these habits are missing, plaque buildup on teeth increases and the risk of tooth decay increases.

Frequent consumption of sugary pacifiers: Frequent sucking of sugary pacifiers by infants can increase the risk of tooth decay.

How to Prevent Tooth Decay in Children

You can take the following measures to prevent tooth decay in children:

Regular Tooth Brushing: It is important that your child brushes their teeth regularly, at least twice a day, in the morning and at night. It is very important to develop the habit of brushing teeth at an early age.

Choosing the Right Toothbrush and Toothpaste: Choose an age-appropriate toothbrush and fluoride-containing toothpaste suitable for children. Remember to change the toothbrush every 3-4 months.

Flossing: When your child's teeth touch side to side, teach them to floss. Cleaning between teeth helps prevent tooth decay.

Healthy Eating Habits: Limit the consumption of sugary and acidic foods and drinks. Especially reduce sugary snacks and carbonated drinks. A healthy diet supports the health of the teeth.

Products Containing Fluoride: Using toothpastes and mouthwashes containing fluoride can strengthen tooth enamel and reduce the risk of decay.

Regular Dental Checkups: Make sure your child visits the dentist regularly. The dentist can detect tooth decay or other problems early and take treatment measures.

Avoid Sugary Bottle Use Overnight: Limit infants' use of bottles with sugary drinks such as milk or juice overnight.

Make Oral Health Awareness: Tell your child why regular dental care and oral health are important. This can help them become aware of oral hygiene.

How to Treat Tooth Decay in Children

Treatment of tooth decay in children can vary depending on the severity and extent of the decay. Treatment methods include:

Filling (Restoration): The most common treatment for mild or moderate tooth decay is filling. The dentist cleans the decayed area and then fills the tooth with filling material. The filling helps restore the tooth's function and aesthetics.

Pulp Treatment: When decay reaches the pulp layer (nerves and vessels) of the tooth, pulp treatment may be required. 

Crowns: In case of major tooth decay or loss of a large part of the tooth, the dentist may recommend a crown or a crown. This means reshaping the upper part of the tooth and attaching a crown.

Root Canal Treatment (Endodontic Treatment): If the pulp of your child's tooth is severely affected, the dentist may recommend root canal treatment. This is done to clean the infection inside the tooth and protect the tooth.

Tooth Extraction: If tooth decay is very advanced and there is no chance of saving the tooth, tooth extraction may be necessary. After tooth extraction, a treatment plan can be made to replace the missing tooth.

Fluoride Application: In some cases, your child's dentist can apply fluoride to strengthen tooth enamel and reduce the risk of decay.

Creation Date:09 October 2023