Caries is caused by lack of hygiene, sugary diet and incorrect brushing of teeth. All about treatments. How to prevent tooth decay in children.
Golden curls, shining eyes – and rotten teeth. 20 percent of three year olds suffer from early childhood caries. The likelihood of suffering a dental injury in childhood or adolescence is greater than being spared from it. Caries is a common dental disease in babies and toddlers and can quickly lead to pronounced dental destruction. Already after the eruption of the first milk teeth, caries can occur in infants and toddlers.
Caries in children is always associated with severe pain and can spread rapidly. Nevertheless, it is controversial among parents whether cavities in milk teeth are a problem at all, since they only stay in the mouth for a limited time anyway.
The German Society for Dental, Oral and Maxillofacial Medicine warns from ignoring damage in deciduous teeth. A healthy milk dentition is an important basis for a healthy permanent dentition, he said. Premature tooth loss can have far-reaching consequences – for example, incorrect eruption of the permanent teeth.
Infants who develop tooth decay at the tender age of three have also later an increased risk of tooth decay. In this case, the child needs particularly intensive preventive measures. If children lose their milk teeth early, this can affect their chewing ability.
Caries disturbs the development of speech and in the worst case the infestation destroys the whole set of teeth. Poorly educated parents, poor oral hygiene and an overconsumption of sweets are only some of the causes of this condition. Caries damage is not hereditary.
Causes of caries in children
The cause of tooth decay in children is insufficient oral hygiene in combination with a sugary diet. The sugar does not necessarily come from sweets, it hides in many foods, such as yogurt or drinks. The sugar is initially in itself completely harmless to the teeth. But it serves as a food base for bacteria, on which a firmly attached film forms, the dental plaque. The microorganisms process the sugar. Secretes acids in the process.
These first attack the hard substance of the teeth because they demineralize them. For dental health, it is therefore important to thoroughly remove plaque or dental plaque on a regular basis. One problem is that crowded or interlocked teeth make thorough brushing difficult, food debris often gets stuck. This is how caries can form in children despite tooth brushing.
If the plaque is not optimally removed by the toothbrush, the plaque bacteria produce acids in the plaque after an average of 24 to 48 hours. Holes develop because these acids attack the hard tooth enamel. They decalcify it by dissolving out minerals and are the reason for incipient caries in milk teeth.
The longer the demineralization continues, the more likely it is that the acid will also attack the dentin and cause the bacteria to enter the tooth structure Tooth interior penetrate. It is particularly painful when the periodontium and the root tip become inflamed and abscesses form. Then the teeth rot from the inside.
This is what caries in milk teeth looks like
The early stages of caries in young children are visible as white or brownish spots on the teeth. This so-called initial caries lesion is a sign of decalcification of the milk teeth, which is caused by oral bacteria. During this process, the tooth enamel loses stored minerals, which can be seen as white chalk stains on the surface.
If the dentist detects the decalcification process at an early stage, he can slow it down with an intensive treatment of fluoride and even stop caries in small children. He tries to introduce new minerals into the damaged milk tooth. If fluoride is applied in the form of varnish to the affected areas of the deciduous dentition, it can accelerate the remineralization of the deciduous teeth.
Caries in children can already occur in milk teeth and is manifested by brownish-black spots
Stop tooth decay in children
If a hole has already formed in the milk tooth due to caries infestation, fluoride treatment is no longer sufficient. To stop tooth decay in children, dentists must remove decayed areas and destroyed tooth tie using a drill or laser and close the holes. Alternatively, it may be sufficient to provide affected teeth with a metal cap to cut off the bacteria from the sugar supply. This prevents the caries from spreading further.
The amption that decayed milk teeth are not a problem because they fall out after a while anyway is wrong! Although smaller children are usually not ready for elaborate treatments, the dentist at least treats dental injuries in such a way that no additional damage occurs to the permanent teeth, which are still in the jawbone. The goal is to, preserve the milk tooth as long as possible.
The development of the dentition is essential for speech formation and chewing ability. Only in emergencies does the dentist remove milk teeth early on. The consequences for the development of the dentition and the permanent teeth are minor, but should be avoided.
You can find out more about dental health in the Healthy Skin& ie Teeth by FOCUS-GESUNDHEIT, available as e-paper or print booklet.
What to do to prevent tooth decay in children?
Rules like "always brush your teeth after eating and after eating sweets" or "Do not eat sweets are unrealistic and unnecessary. Teeth and gums remain healthy if parents and children follow a few rules and apply them consistently. With the first milk tooth should be for toddlers. Babies should start daily oral hygiene. There are special toothbrushes for small teeth so that no damage occurs in the oral cavity. The State Working Group on Youth Dental Care in Hesse (LAGH) recommends brushing the milk teeth directly after breakfast and after dinner. After brushing their teeth in the evening, children should not eat or drink anything except mineral water or water to keep their teeth clean. As a rule of thumb, parents should brush their children's teeth approximately until they can write.
From the eruption of the first milk tooth until the eruption of the first permanent tooth, children should use toothpaste with a low fluoride concentration (0.05 percent = 500ppm), which removes bacteria from the tooth surface and prevents inflammation of the gums. After that, until the permanent teeth erupt, toothpaste with 1.000 ppm fluoride is used. Initially, parents should brush once a day with a fluoride toothpaste until age two. If you want to brush twice a day, simply divide the amount of toothpaste between them.
It is useful to approach the problem creatively and strongly ritualize tooth brushing. It helps children to know what is coming. Parents can, for example, always sing a certain song or tell the same toothbrushing story every night. What also helps is to let the child brush their teeth independently at first, while mom and dad clean their own teeth. Afterwards, the parents can then admire the child's teeth and brush them again.
Since the ability to use and understand language is not yet mature in young children, detailed explanations do not help much. Young children only have a short attention span. Ritualized actions they accept much better.
Almost all children go through this phase where they want to do everything on their own. It is important to maintain an inner attitude. The child should be taught that there are things that just have to be done. Whether that's changing a diaper, buckling up in the car, or brushing teeth.
Especially at the end of the day, toddlers are often very tired and overstimulated. Is there a perfect time for the evening toothbrushing routine?
It is sometimes advisable to postpone the thorough cleaning of the teeth to a time when the little ones are not yet completely overtired. Then it is enough to brush quickly just before going to bed. There are toothbrushes on the market that brush from three sides at the same time due to the special arrangement of the brushes. This saves additional time.
Parents should do exactly what they do when their child has wet his or her diaper and it needs to be changed. Or when the child wants to play outside in sub-zero temperatures without a jacket. Explain briefly and get down to business with a clear attitude. When parents notice that they themselves are stressed, it can help to take a short break. How to put everyone at ease. Can start again a little later.
It is important to find a position in which the child feels comfortable and secure and the parents have a good view of the teeth. This is often the case in a lying position. On the changing table, couch or bed.
At what age are stories about Karius and Baktus useful and understood by children?
Stories about brushing teeth are helpful at any age. For the youngest children, the stories should be short and simple. Older children also understand longer, age-appropriate stories well. It is important that they do not cause anxiety about going to the dentist. Something by statements like: "If you do not brush, the dentist will have to drill. Around until the eighth birthday are mom. Dad responsible for their children's dental care. For children whose fine motor skills develop somewhat later, even longer. As a little reminder, if you can write nicely in cursive, you can brush your teeth on your own.
Saliva as protection
The most important natural protection system against tooth decay in young children is saliva. By rinsing the milk teeth, it ensures their regeneration, repair and hardening. But saliva also needs regeneration time, i.e. phases in which the teeth do not come into contact with sugar again.
Kindergarten children need about 16 hours of saliva regeneration time per day. Twelve hours of sleep. An additional four hours a day. The LAGH recommends the morning for this, when the teeth are cleanly brushed after breakfast. With this rhythm, the saliva can compensate for about eight hours of attacks on the teeth. Strong chewing on brown bread, carrots or apples additionally stimulates saliva production. This offsets even small amounts of the naturally occurring sugars in foods.
If, then snack properly
Proper nutrition is enormously important for a healthy child's smile. Crunchy fruit, fresh vegetables and hard-to-bite bread strengthen milk teeth. Sweets and sweetened beverages, on the other hand, provide breeding grounds for bacteria and promote caries. But toddlers do not have to give up sugary foods completely. With the right tricks, they can enjoy their snacking – and do so gently on their teeth.
Children who like to eat chocolate, sweets or ice cream should eat well when they have their first craving and enjoy the sweet treat. It is easier for teeth to cope with a whole bar of chocolate at once than with many small pieces spread throughout the day. Because: When it comes to the formation of caries, it is not how much sugar we have eaten, but how often.
Every time we eat even a small amount of sugar, the oral bacteria also help themselves to it. They can then produce the harmful acid for at least half an hour. This is almost independent of the amount of sugar actually ingested. To prevent tooth decay, it is therefore worthwhile to reduce the number of sugary snacks, such as a sip of cola, iced tea or juice, cookies or candy.
Fruit, juices and soft drinks contain acids that also damage teeth. Therefore, after healthy snacks such as an apple or a glass of orange juice, do not brush your teeth immediately, but wait half an hour until the saliva has neutralized the acids and the enamel has hardened again.
Once teeth have been brushed clean after breakfast, they should remain sugar-free for the time being. This is important so that saliva can regenerate. Raw vegetables, fresh fruit, oatmeal, unsweetened yogurt, dairy products, cheese, ham and whole grain products are therefore ideal for the lunchbox at daycare or a second breakfast at home. It is better for children to avoid bananas, dried fruit, fruit juices and milk-based drinks until lunch time.
If you are looking for sugar-free alternatives for your child, you should make sure that "sugar-free" foods are also available Foods may contain sugar. Because: The label "sugar-free" simply means that no household sugars, i.e. sucrose, are included. Fructose, glucose, lactose or malt sugar may still be present. These can also lead to tooth decay.
Dentists therefore recommend tooth-friendly products that contain sugar substitutes instead of sugar, which bacteria cannot use to produce harmful acid. Parents can recognize them by the symbol "Tooth man with umbrella". An often underestimated caries risk in infants. Toddlers are the continuous sucking on drinking bottles. Especially if they are filled with sweetened tea, juice or other sugary contents. If children suck on it continuously throughout the day, this poses a considerable risk to their dental health. Particularly in combination with a lack of dental care, the effects on milk teeth are drastic. Especially in the upper incisors, early childhood caries is so common.
The earlier, the better: visits to the dentist
The earlier children go to the dentist for the first time, the less decay there is in the milk teeth. This has a multi-year prevention program of the dentists of the Polyclinic of Preventive Dentistry. Pediatric dentistry at the University Hospital Jena (UKJ) reveal. Similar to pediatric checkups, infants should attend dental checkups so that dentists can detect and treat incipient damage to the primary dentition in a timely manner.
When a child gets his or her first milk teeth, around the age of 6. and 8. After the first month of life, a visit to the dentist is also recommended. The second examination should take place with the first deciduous molars at the age of 16 to 18 months and a third when the deciduous dentition is complete, at about the 30. Month of life. From then on, a child should visit the dentist every three to six months for checkups. If there is an increased risk of caries, up to four dental visits a year may be necessary to prevent decay of the milk teeth.
Important: a good relationship with the treating dentist
During preventive visits, children learn about the practice and are encouraged to build a trusting relationship with their dentist so they can maintain a healthy relationship with dental care in the future. If a visit to the dentist is imminent, parents should not make false promises to their children and conceal an upcoming treatment. Threats or gifts are completely the wrong approach to help children overcome their fear of the dentist. Praise and words of appreciation, on the other hand, help a child take visits to the dentist for granted.
Through initial interviews, the dentist can learn about the eating and hygiene habits of the child and the parents and determine whether there is an increased risk of caries. The dentist should inform parents about important dental prophylaxis measures, the dangers of bottle-sucking, functionally appropriate pacifiers, tips for proper nutrition, correct brushing of milk teeth and the use of fluorides.