Dental caries, frequently called dental cavities or tooth decay, is a bacterial disease. It affects both adults and children. If not managed properly, it may become a lifelong problem. Tooth decay is supposed to be an infectious disease which can be transmitted when children share kitchen utensils with the adults who have carious cavities or through kissing. However, this is not a life-threatening condition and few people try to prevent the transmission of the disease and its contraction.
This destructive disease develops when caries-causing bacteria appear in oral cavities and build up on the vulnerable surface of teeth. These bacteria convert lactose, glucose, sucrose and other simple sugars into lactic acid which acts by dissolving minerals on the enamel of teeth. Dental cavities are likely to emerge as a result. Thus, parents and health-care providers should take immediate care of the deciduous (primary) teeth of children after their eruption. Some parents ignore this fact what results in dental plaque accumulation on the teeth enamel in their children. As the primary teeth enamel is much thinner than enamel of permanent (adult) teeth, the demineralization process occurs very quickly and dental caries involves the whole tooth immediately. Tooth decay can be caused by consumption of the medications that negatively influence the enamel. The deficiency of calcium and fluorine in the nutrition contributes to the development of dental cavities in children. Serious forms of tooth decay can negatively influence the jaw development as well as the child’s ability to speak.
Photo 1. Sweets contribute to the development of caries..
The white spots on the tooth enamel are the first sign of dental caries. These white spots cause no disturbing feelings at first. If not treated, the bacteria may break through the enamel and affect the underlying dentine which is a much softer tissue in the tooth structure. The child may suffer from severe pain especially when sweet or sour, hot or cold food and beverages are consumed. As the infection progresses, it inflames the pulp tissue. Thus, touch and pressure on the carious tooth provoke pain.
Photo 2. Childhood Caries.
As the first primary teeth erupt in a child, it is recommended to see a pediatric dentist. Scheduled visits to the doctor will secure the baby’s teeth from severe forms of dental caries. The dental mirror and the dental explorer are the instruments the doctor will use to examine the oral cavity of the baby. Tactile and visual examinations are likely to detect large dental caries as well as small lesions if they are present.
Photo 3. Diagnosis of childhood caries.
The principal aim of tooth decay treatment is to protect healthy teeth from the destructive influence of the infected areas. The spoon and the dental handpiece are used to remove decayed material carefully. The next step is to restore the missing part of the tooth using restorative materials. In the process of tooth decay treatment as well as while conducting other dental manipulations it is necessary to anesthetize small patients. Tooth extraction may be used as a treatment option for children. Their extracted deciduous teeth will be soon replaced by the permanent ones; that is why there is no need to fill the carious cavities when the child is five or six years old. The impact of dental caries of primary teeth on the growth of the permanent ones is very significant. Early onset of periodontitis, which is the inflammation of the surrounding tissues, may result from tooth decay. This process may affect the roots of the adult teeth and cause their inappropriate eruption. If the deciduous teeth fall out too early, it may cause the impairment of the dentofacial system development.
Photo 4. Children's caries must be treated..
Dental hygiene of every child must be kept at a proper level. For this purpose parents must cooperate with their dentists to ensure healthy teeth development of their children. Parents must take their children to the dentist at least once a year. From the age of twelve months children should start cleaning their teeth using toothbrushes and minimum amount of toothpaste. Toothpaste without fluoride should be used till the child learns how to spit in order to avoid swallowing. When the child is two or three years of age, children’s toothpaste with fluoride may be administered as fluoride is the best active ingredient that prevents tooth decay. Food which contains lots of carbohydrates, such as candies, sodas, juices, chips, peanut butter increases the risk of carious cavities development in children. Thus, parents should establish regular meal consuming schedule for their children rather than all-day snacking. Children must be discouraged from going to sleep with a bottle of milk as it contains lactose which is collected around the teeth and provokes tooth decay. Children should be taught to drink water or other liquids from regular cups as soon as possible.