How to Protect Your Child’s Teeth Against Early Childhood Caries

December 9, 2020

There’s a serious condition that affects America’s children at an alarming rate. More common than asthma, hay fever, and various other conditions often felt to be particularly troublesome childhood diseases, early childhood caries is practically an epidemic, with about 40% of America’s children starting to experience serious tooth decay before the age of five as of 2010.

It’s critical to your child’s teeth and lifelong oral health to get them into a pediatric dentist office as soon as teeth start to come in. Otherwise, you and your child could be getting set up for a lifetime of repairing their teeth. In Loveland, you can help your child avoid cavities and missing teeth at a young age by taking them to Rocky Mountain Smiles as soon as their teeth begin to pop up, so we can educate you on oral health for your child and start them off with professional cleaning and maintenance.

What are Early Childhood Caries (ECC)?

Early childhood caries is a chronic disease of the mouth, teeth, and gums that shows itself in various forms, including cavities, carious lesions, and tooth loss. It is defined as the presence of one or more decayed, missing, or filled tooth surfaces before the age of 71 months. When the decay begins, it only makes it more likely for problems to occur in the future. 

The earlier you can get your child to the dentist after their teeth come in, the better. If you’ve started to notice white spots on your child’s teeth or if they seem off color in any way, you should take them to the dentist as soon as you can to avoid serious long-term problems.

What are the Risks of Childhood Caries or Cavities?

They may seem small, but the significance of a cavity can be great. There are a variety of risks involved with early childhood caries, however the severity of those risks lowers the sooner you address the problem and get your child into their local dentist. Here are just a few of the risks involved with developing cavities and lesions and losing teeth at a young age:

  • Increased risk of cavities and tooth loss in the future
  • Early transmission of Mutans Streptococci, a common oral bacteria that is often transmitted to children through their mother, is more likely when ECC is already present
  • More difficult feeding for infants, because bottles and sippy cups become a danger to children with ECC
  • Poorer dietary habits as they avoid certain foods because of weak or missing teeth
  • A lifetime of high-cost dental work
  • The social stigma of missing teeth at a young age
  • A variety of medical conditions and outcomes, including death, that can stem from an unattended oral infection

Just because the problem is invisible to most people early on, that shouldn’t be an excuse to put off your trips to the dentist, and it clearly isn’t one you want to make with your child. Avoiding tooth loss, cavities, and the other effects of early childhood caries should be a priority if you want to get your child off to the right foot with their oral health.

How to Prevent Early Childhood Caries

While there are measures that can be taken to save your child’s oral health if they develop ECC, the most effective way to fight the disease is to prevent it all together. Taking your child to their first dentist appointment within six months of their first tooth eruption or in the first year of their life is critical. Your pediatric dentist can assess where your child currently stands in terms of risks and development, initiate preventive measures, and provide guidance on how to care for your child’s oral health. Avoiding dental disease and having good overall oral health with full dentition should be the goal for every child, and a pediatric dentist can easily help you do that.

Come in to Rocky Mountain Smiles Today

At Rocky Mountain Smiles in Loveland, we’re a family dentistry practice that treats your children’s pediatric dentistry as if we were working with our own children. We’re sure that together, our dentists and the parents of Loveland can ward off the chronic threat of early childhood caries. Contact us today to set up your child’s appointment!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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