Cavities in a child are often called early childhood tooth decay. When your child’s teeth are repeatedly being exposed to sugars for a long period of time, this can lead to tooth decay. This is because plaque, a sticky film of bacteria in your child’s mouth produces acids that attack tooth enamel (the outer layer of your child’s teeth). The stickiness of the plaque keeps the acids in contact with the teeth. After many such attacks, the enamel can breakdown, get soft and cavities can form.
As soon as your child has primary (baby) teeth, you should check them once a week for signs of tooth decay. Here’s what you should look for:
- Dull or chalking white spots or lines on the teeth;
- Brown spots on the teeth (remember to look along the gum line);
- Dark teeth.
Also, if your child has difficulty eating cold, sweet or hard food, this may be another sign of tooth decay. If you see any of these signs, take your child to the dentist right away.
Early childhood tooth decay is preventable. A few ways to stop it include:
- Never put your child to bed with a bottle or sippy cup, unless it contains only water;
- Between meals, give your children water to drink;
- Clean you child’s gums and teeth every day. Wipe the gums with a clean cloth. * Brush the teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush.