Tooth decay is considered to be the number one chronic-based, infectious disease that negatively impacts children within the United States. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry conducted a massive amount of research on the topic that indicates that this disease is on the rise; however, it is possible to prevent tooth decay from developing.
This disease occurs when the tooth enamel starts to break down or is destroyed. Enamel is the substance on the outer layer of each tooth.
If left to progress, it can lead to the development of cavities, which are small holes that develop in the teeth. Continue reading to learn about this devastating situation impacting today’s young populations.
How Does Tooth Decay Develop?
All children are at high risk for developing tooth decay. During a child’s first years, they have baby teeth. The enamel on these teeth is much softer than the enamel on an adult’s teeth.
There are bacteria in the mouth. These bacteria feed on the sugars that are consumed by the child in beverages, juices, and food products. In the feeding process, the bacteria create acids. These acids then damage the enamel of the tooth.
While saliva is present to help in the repair of the damage, the situation may worsen over time – especially if the amount of damage exceeds the time that the saliva has to make the repairs.
This then results in the development of cavities, or “caries”.
The following outlines some staggering statistics associated with tooth decay on little teeth:
- The rate of the development of tooth decay among kids that are between the ages of 2 and 5 has increased 17% from the late 80s to mid-90s to now.
- By the time a kid reaches the age of 5, they have a 60% chance of being directly impacted by tooth decay.
- Kids will then develop a wide array of dental problems. As a result, they are 3 times more likely to miss school than kids who have no dental issues.
What are the Signs of Tooth Decay?
Each child will be affected by tooth decay in a unique way to them; however, the following outline the most common signs that this infectious disease has started to develop within the mouth:
- White spots may start to develop on the teeth. This indicates the breakdown of enamel.
- The teeth may start to become sensitive.
- A light brown cavity may develop.
- Pain may be experienced.
A Pediatric Dentist Can Help
A child should visit a dentist by the age of 1; however, up to 40% of parents or caregivers wait until the age of 2 or later. While a general dentist can help with the issue, pediatric dentists have several years of additional education and training that can help in the prevention or treatment of tooth decay.
To boost your child’s dental health and prevent the development of this devastating dental disease, contact us here at Richmond Pediatric Dentistry today by calling: