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Cavities affect nearly 50% of 5- to 6-year-old children, a number which rises to about 80% by the time they reach 17. While tooth decay has become a common occurrence, it is no less destructive to a child’s oral health, and should be taken seriously.

What Causes Cavities?

Tooth decay is directly caused by poor oral hygiene and the bacteria which lives already in your mouth. This bacteria natural clumps together to form plaque on a tooth, which then breaks down sugary or high-starch foods into acid which begins to erode the teeth. While your mouth produces saliva with minerals and other restorative properties which can help stall this acidic process, it is usually not enough and you are left with a hold in your tooth.

It is important to remember, too, that while many people believe only permanent teeth are at risk for cavities, infants and toddlers are also prone to this disease, and sometimes even more so, as proper oral hygiene habits are not yet in place at these ages. One of the most frequent manifestations of tooth decay that we see in infants and toddlers is called Early Childhood Caries (ECC). Kids dental care is important too!

Early Childhood Caries

Generally starting with the front teeth, ECC is a fast-moving and severe tooth decay, specifically in the baby teeth, which is generally caused from children who fall asleep drinking milk, juice, soda or other sugary drinks. We generally don’t see this kind of decay until a child has stopped breastfeeding, but it can also occur in those who breastfeed at night. This type of tooth decay occurs due to the reduction in saliva at night, which is a tooth’s only defense against decay if oral hygiene habits are not in place. The effects of ECC can be devastating, and many children need to have all affected teeth pulled under general anesthesia.

Contact Dr. Parnaz Mansouri and Dr. Joseph Curtin today to learn more and see how we can help your children in the fight against cavities.

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