Causes of tooth decay in children: influencing factors and prevention tips

Causes of tooth decay in children: influencing factors and prevention tips

May 31, 2024

Tooth decay in children is one of the common problems that many children face and this is because the outer layer that covers children’s teeth, known as enamel, is less thick and hard compared to that of adults, making them more vulnerable to the risk of tooth decay, as baby teeth help children speak and eat, and direct permanent teeth to erupt in their correct place and in this article, we will talk about the causes of this phenomenon and how to treat and prevent it.


What is tooth decay in children?

Tooth decay in children, scientifically known as tooth decay, occurs as a result of the accumulation of bacteria and food debris on the surface of the tooth and this accumulation leads to the production of acids that dissolve the outer layer of enamel, the protective layer of the teeth. When these acids penetrate the enamel, they reach the tooth pulp, causing inflammation of the tooth pulp and nerve and if the decay is not treated at this stage, the infection can spread to affect the tissues surrounding the tooth, leading to the formation of a dental abscess in the child.

Tooth decay in children is not only about pain and discomfort, it can also affect a child’s ability to eat and speak properly and in addition, cavities can lead to more serious problems such as premature tooth loss, affecting the arrangement of permanent teeth that later grow. Therefore, it is necessary to take care of children’s oral and dental health through good care and continuous prevention.

Causes of tooth decay in children 

The causes of tooth decay in children are many and varied, the most prominent of which are:

The child sleeps while feeding from a milk bottle: Regardless of the content of the bottle, whether it is milk, sweetened water, soft drinks, or juice, these liquids contain sugars that can accumulate on the teeth and cause cavities.

The mother chews food and feeds it to the child directly from her mouth: This practice can transfer the bacteria present in the mother’s mouth to the child’s mouth, which increases the risk of tooth decay.

Eating with the child from the same spoon: This can transfer cavity-causing bacteria from the adult’s mouth to the child’s mouth.

Dipping the child’s pacifier in a sweetened liquid: Some parents dip the child’s pacifier in honey or any sweetened liquid before giving it to the child, which increases the exposure of the child’s teeth to sugar and thus increases the risk of tooth decay.

Not taking care of the child’s teeth: Neglecting to brush the child’s teeth regularly and not following prevention methods, such as using a toothbrush and floss, increases the accumulation of bacteria and plaque on the teeth.

A child’s fear of the dentist: Teaching a child misconceptions about the dentist and dental treatment can make him afraid of visiting the doctor, which leads to him neglecting to examine his teeth regularly and treat any problems early.

The child frequently eats foods rich in sugar: Eating sugary foods and drinks several times during the day increases the teeth’ exposure to sugar, which contributes to the formation of acids that dissolve the enamel layer and cause tooth decay.

Genetics: In some cases, genetics can play a role in determining the strength and integrity of tooth enamel, making some children more susceptible to cavities.

Not drinking sufficient amounts of water: Water helps clean the mouth and teeth from food debris and bacteria, and a lack of it can increase the risk of tooth decay.

Fluoride deficiency: Fluoride is a substance that helps strengthen tooth enamel and make it more resistant to decay. Lack of fluoride in drinking water or not using fluoride toothpaste can increase the risk of tooth decay in children.

A combination of these factors contribute to increasing the risk of tooth decay in children, and therefore it is necessary to follow prevention methods and take good care of oral and dental health from a young age.

Ways to prevent tooth decay in children

Caring for children’s teeth since the emergence of the first tooth: The child’s teeth should be cleaned with a special children’s brush and toothpaste, or the surface of the tooth should be wiped with a soft, wet cloth.

Encouraging toothbrush use: Choose toothbrushes with bright colors and attractive designs to encourage older children to use them. Adults can brush their teeth in front of children to set an example for them.

Make brushing teeth fun: Turning teeth brushing time into an entertaining period for the child can help motivate him to do it regularly.

Regular brushing: Brush the child’s teeth two to three times a day for two minutes each time.

Quantity of toothpaste: The amount of toothpaste used should not exceed the size of a small chickpea.

Using dental floss: Using dental floss to clean between the child’s teeth by the mother is one of the most important ways to prevent tooth decay.

Periodic examinations at the dentist: Visit the dentist periodically to examine the health and safety of the child’s teeth, especially when they notice a change in color or the presence of a hole in one of the teeth.

Providing healthy food: Make sure to provide healthy food that is complete with nutrients for the child, and includes foods rich in calcium and vitamin D, such as milk and cheese.

Limit sugar intake: Give the child sugar-free sweets or those containing safe sugar substitutes.

Brushing teeth before bed: Brush your child’s teeth before bed and avoid feeding him foods that contain sugar before bed.

Protecting teeth from shocks: Avoid exposing the child to shocks or falls to protect his teeth from breakage.

Using solid adhesive fillings: Solid adhesive fillings are considered one of the best methods used to prevent tooth decay, as they close the deep parts of the molars that may be susceptible to tooth decay.

Motivating children to brush their teeth: Motivate children and give them rewards when they brush their teeth regularly.

In addition to these tips, you can use toothpaste that contains fluoride and encourage the child to drink water after eating to maintain oral hygiene and reduce the risk of tooth decay. These preventive practices contribute greatly to maintaining children’s dental health and protecting them from decay.

Tooth decay in children is a common problem that can be prevented through a good oral care regimen and healthy eating habits, as by paying attention to cleaning teeth regularly, visiting the dentist periodically, and providing a balanced diet that contains the nutrients necessary for strong tooth growth, parents can protect their children from tooth decay and its negative effect, as always remember that oral health care begins at a young age, and that educating children and encouraging good hygiene practices is a long-term investment in their overall health and bright smile.

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