Dental Care

Baby Teeth Decay

We all know that baby teeth decay is not a permanent problem, but this doesn’t mean that they can just be neglected either.

This is because they are necessary for a child to maintain a proper diet.

They serve the same purpose as the adult teeth to come (meaning that they protect the jaw and allow for proper speech, eating, etc.).

They preserve the places where adult teeth are meant to grow in; and they should never be allowed to decay.

Why is it Bad for Baby Teeth to Decay?

Most importantly, when decay occurs in baby teeth, this can spread into the gum tissue and the permanent teeth developing in the child’s jaws. This could easily mean the loss of those permanent teeth before they even emerge.

Secondly, when these first teeth decay it can destroy the enamel and this can lead to the exposure of the “pulp chamber” inside of the tooth. This means that the same pain you feel when you have a very bad cavity will be experienced by your young child. Each time they eat a hot or cold food or something with sugar, they are likely to feel tremendous pain.

Finally, should decay occur in your baby's teeth decay to the point of pulp chamber exposure, it can also lead to abscesses in the gum or jaw, and this is somewhat catastrophic to the dental health of a child. Abscesses can mean that the nerves and the blood vessels keeping the tooth alive have been destroyed, and this could mean that an extraction is necessary. It can also mean that the permanent tooth will already be stained or pitted thanks to exposure to the bacteria and the trauma as well.

When the condition of you baby's teeth degrade to the point where removal is necessary, this also means that the young child is going to have to be outfitted with “space maintainers” that prevent the permanent teeth from drifting into an undesired or unnatural position as well.

How to Avoid Baby Teeth Decay

So, the key to preventing a child from having to endure pain, prolonged dental visits, extractions, and/or the use of dental appliances at a young age is to practice preventative maintenance and care.

What does that mean? To avoid the risks of baby teeth decay, parents and/or guardians should make dental care a daily activity.

This begins when a child is very young, and can actually begin only a few days after they are born. At that time, parents can clean their baby’s mouth with a soft wet cloth, and can continue to do this until the first teeth start to appear.

To begin a good program to prevent teeth decay, it is important to introduce the child to the idea of toothpaste and the removal of plaque. This is usually done first with a soft cloth or a baby toothbrush and appropriate toothpaste.

A good routine is to clean the teeth at least once per day with warm water and a soft toothbrush and to add a bit of toothpaste to this routine just before bed time.

It is essential to remember that children who awake during the night time hours for a feeding will also need to have their teeth cleaned again before heading back to sleep. One of the leading causes for baby teeth decay is when parents put a child to bed with a bottle of anything except water. This allows the natural sugars from the milk, formula or juice to work on the tender enamel throughout the entire evening, and this can easily begin the process of baby teeth decay.

Guidance and Habits

All children should have enjoyed their first visit to the dentist by the time they reach the age of one. By then, they will have had a few of their first teeth erupt, and the dentist can gauge the general condition of the child’s oral development, their gums, and the emerging teeth. (Remember to book appointments around nap times in order to reduce the stress and upset of a visit.)

Parents are also a good line of defense against baby teeth decay simply by paying attention to the way the teeth appear. If a visible change occurs in the looks of the enamel or the surface of a child’s teeth, it is important to get them to the dentist immediately. This is because it is a definitive sign that something is occurring that should be addressed, and dentists are the best way to learn the appropriate solution.

What if Baby Teeth Decay Occurs?

So, what happens if a tooth gets infected? Does it always have to be removed? Are there any options for restoration? Is that even a good idea?

Most dental professionals would tell parents that it is always a wise idea to preserve the baby tooth if possible. There are several kinds of fillings that can be used to accomplish this task, but it should be understood that some children don’t respond well to extensive dental treatment.

For example, a badly decayed tooth in a child’s mouth may be a good candidate for a pulpectomy. This is the removal of the blood vessels and the nerves inside of the pulp chamber, and the placement of a large filling in the remaining area.

It is not the same as a root canal because baby teeth are not permanent, but it can be as lengthy and difficult as one. This means that it is just a wise idea to do everything possible to avoid the risks of decay.

Prevention of Baby Teeth Decay is Better

  • Cleaning the teeth from the earliest age possible;
  • Ensuring that the child has a visit with a dentist by that age of 1 year, with six month checkups afterward;
  • Relying on a fluoridated toothpaste to ensure the enamel is protected;
  • Making the brushing of teeth or the rinsing of the mouth immediately after meals an “everyday” habit;
  • Consider having sealants applied to all of the chewing and biting surfaces of the permanent teeth when they begin to emerge; and
  • Considering the use of fluoride treatments if there is a high incidence of soft enamel or serious tooth decay in either of the parent’s backgrounds or family history.


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