HEALTH

Milford Dentists Talk About Tooth Decay in Children

Friday 21 October 2016, 10:36AM
By Beckie Wright
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NORTH SHORE CITY

Dentists are becoming increasingly worried about the tooth decay and cavities they are finding in children from a very early age, asking parents to make sure they keep their children’s teeth properly cleaned and flossed and include regular dental visits to reduce the likelihood of later treatments and unexpected costs.

The Milford Dentists team say that recent reports are showing tooth decay occurring at an earlier age than ever before, so it is extremely important that parents show their children how they can have good oral health habits to last them a lifetime.

The National Institute’s research is a concern for parents because 42 percent of children ages 2 to 11 develop a cavity in their primary teeth, in addition to New Zealand surveys which have identified that more than 40% of 2-4-year-olds are not being seen by a dental professional and 44% of 5-year-olds have at least one decayed, missing or filled tooth.

Although dental decay remains the most prevalent chronic, and irreversible, disease in New Zealand with free dental care available for children up to 18 years, many parents don't see oral health as a priority and only take their children to a dentist in an emergency.

The professional team at Milford Dentists say that in toddlers, tooth decay begins in the mouth as bacteria begin to eat away the primary teeth. A common cause of toddler tooth decay occurs when the child goes to bed with a bottle and milk or juice from the bottle sits in their mouth overnight providing an ideal environment for breeding bacteria.

Unhealthy eating habits such as children sucking on sweets for prolonged periods and drinking sugary drinks can also contribute to tooth decay along with poor oral hygiene. Children should never go to sleep with a bottle of milk or juice. If they need a drink to go to sleep with parents should only ever use water. Similarly, parents should be sure to floss and brush their children’s teeth twice daily and avoid all sugary drinks.

If your child does develop tooth decay, to prevent the bacteria from spreading, dental work will be required (fillings to correct smaller cavities or a full crown if the damage is extensive). A tooth with decay throughout may require extraction to prevent the bacteria spreading to other teeth. If the decay is severe in primary teeth, pitting or staining in the secondary (adult) teeth can occur.

Habits started early for children’s baby and adult teeth are important for long-term oral hygiene and health, and although toddler's teeth will fall out, parents shouldn’t ignore their care. For a healthy smile throughout their lifetime, parents should make sure their children are protected from cavities at an early age. Milford Dentists are there to help so please go to http://www.milforddentists.co.nz .