cavities

How To Prevent Early Childhood Caries

What are early childhood caries?

Early Childhood Caries (ECC) is a serious infectious disease that causes tooth decay and loss and, when left untreated, can have long-term emotional and intellectual development. ECC refers to cavities that develop in children under six years of age. It can be very painful, result in the premature loss of baby teeth, and compromise the development of permanent teeth.

ECC can develop rapidly in teeth and usually begin to form in children around six months of age. They often occur on the upper front teeth and are caused by frequent consumption of sugary products. After children consume these products, a sugary residue is often left in the mouth for many hours. The bacteria that cause cavities to feed on this sticky residue. Even nutritious foods and drinks like bananas, breast milk and fruit juice have natural sugars that can contribute to cavities.

Symptoms of early childhood caries:

1. White spots around the gums, which can be difficult to detect. These may evolve into brown spots and possibly broken teeth.

2. Loss of teeth, which can cause trouble speaking and eating, affecting the overall health and development of your child.

4. Pain, which can affect eating, sleeping and learning.

5. Infections and fever.

6. Crooked permanent teeth, which can cause confidence issues.

prevent early childhood caries

Prevention

ECC is preventable. Good oral hygiene, regular dental care, good nutrition, and proper feeding is essential to the prevention of ECC. Steps to prevent the development of ECC:

Your child should have their first dental appointment within six months of development of teeth. Your dentist will advise you on risk factors for developing ECC and give detailed information on the risk profile of your child and how to prevent ECC.

After feedings, use a soft toothbrush and water to brush your baby’s gums from birth.

When the first tooth develops, use a soft toothbrush or washcloth twice daily but ideally after feedings. Use a thin layer of toothpaste for children under two years of age. Use a pea-sized amount for children between 2 and five years of age.

Teach your growing child good oral hygiene habits.

Limit your child’s consumption of sugary drinks and foods and feed your child a balanced diet, following dietary guidelines.

Do not give your child a bottle of any sweet liquid before bed. This can be difficult for children under eight months. In these cases, dilute the liquid with water until your child is only drinking water before bed.

As early as possible, serve sugary drinks in a cup, not a bottle. This will prevent liquids from festering in the teeth.

Because parents can share bacteria with their children through sharing meals, parents must practice good oral hygiene or not share utensils, foods and drinks.

Treatment

If not identified and treated early on, ECC can require significant and costly dental work, including anesthesia and surgery, in very young children. Severe ECC (S-ECC) can lead to abscesses and bone damage and may require hospitalization, antibiotics, and tooth extractions.

For more information, schedule an appointment today.

 

Why You Should Always Brush Your Teeth Before Bed

Most people are aware that the general recommendation is to brush your teeth twice a day, but may not realize the importance of brushing before bed. Understandably, people tend to prioritize brushing their teeth in the morning before they leave the house. It does feel great to start the day with a fresh mouth, but the most critical time you should be brushing your teeth is before bed.

Why is brushing before bed so important?

Think of all the meals, snacks and drinks that you consume in a day. By bedtime, there is going to be a lot of food and bacteria built up on your teeth. Most people still leave behind some bacteria when they brush their teeth, so the more times you brush, the greater the chances of cleaning away the bacteria.

Brushing before bed can help prevent:

Cavities

If you go to bed without brushing, that means your teeth are covered in bacteria. The bacteria will digest the foods that you have been eating all day, and then produce acid as a result of their digestion. The acid is what attacks your enamel and can lead to cavities. During the day, your saliva helps to protect your teeth from the acid. The problem is, while you sleep your body doesn’t make as much saliva and your mouth becomes dry. This will put you at a higher risk of cavities if you go to bed without brushing.

Bad breath

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What is known as “morning breath” is a foul odour produced by the bacteria in our mouths. If you clean your mouth well before bed, you will be less likely to have bad breath in the morning.

Gum disease

If plaque is left sitting on your teeth for a prolonged period, it can harden into a calcified substance called tartar. Once tartar forms, it can only be removed during a professional cleaning. In the presence of plaque and tartar, your gums can become inflamed, swollen, red and bleed easily.

Here is an example of a good oral hygiene routine before bed:

Floss

The bacteria need to be disrupted from between your teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach.

Brush

For at least two minutes with a fluoridated toothpaste. Make sure to brush your tongue too!

Rinse

Rinsing with an anti-microbial mouthrinse (choose one with the seal of approval from the Canadian Dental Association) will help to kill bacteria and prevent gingivitis.

If you find that you are skipping brushing before bed because you are too tired, try brushing earlier in the evening after you are done eating for the day. Getting into a new routine isn’t always easy, but it is worth it when you have a clean and healthy mouth. Contact us to schedule your next visit today!

Book your appointment now, because it starts with a smile!
Call us today at (905) 856-2535