Children's teeth are softer and thinner than adult teeth, which makes them more vulnerable to dental disease and easier to damage. Helping your kids to take good care of their teeth and gums could establish good oral hygiene habits for life.
Tooth decay (dental caries) is the most common dental disease that affects kids of all ages. According to the National Child Oral Health Study 2012-14:
- 42% of children aged 5-10 have experienced tooth decay in their deciduous (baby) teeth
- 24% of children aged 6-14 have experienced tooth decay in their permanent (adult) teeth
- 11%-27% of children have untreated decay in at least one tooth
Tooth decay is caused by bacteria living on the teeth in plaque. These bacteria convert sugars in food and drink into acids that can wear down the teeth over time, leading to cavities.
Tooth decay may be reversed in its early stages by applying fluoride treatments and improving oral hygiene. If a cavity has already formed, your dentist may be able to repair it with a white filling. If decay is left untreated, a tooth could become too damaged to save and it may need to be extracted.
Gum disease (periodontal disease) affects around 22% of children aged 5-14 in Australia. It's even more common in adults and seniors.
The early stage of gum disease – gingivitis – is the inflammation of the gums by plaque. If your child's gums look red or swollen, feel itchy, bleed when brushed or they have bad breath, these could be signs that gingivitis is present. If gum disease is left untreated, it can develop into periodontitis, which can cause permanent damage to supporting tooth structures or even lead to tooth loss.
Early gingivitis may be treated by improving your child's oral hygiene. More advanced stages will require gum disease treatment at a dental clinic.
How to avoid dental problems
The good news is that most oral health problems can be prevented by taking good care of your children's teeth and gums. You should start caring for a baby's teeth as soon as they first appear, and children may need your help brushing and flossing until around 7 years of age.
To lower the risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease:
- don't let your child have too much sugar by limiting snacks, soft drinks, fruit juices and cordials
- if they do have sugary snacks or drinks, time these with meals to give their teeth more time to recover in-between
- brush children's teeth twice a day – only use water until 18 months, low-fluoride children's toothpaste until 6 years, then switch to regular fluoride toothpaste
- gently floss children's teeth once a day to remove food and plaque from hard-to-reach areas
- get a custom mouthguard fitted by your child's dentist to protect their teeth during sports
- keep up with your family's regular dental visits
Talk to a family dentist in Sydney CBD
If it's time for your child's dental check-up or you need to talk a dentist, contact Sydney CBD Dental today.
Call our Sydney dentists on (02) 9232 3900 or book an appointment at our clinic at 300 George Street.
1. Do LG & Spencer AJ (Editors) 2016. Oral health of Australian children: the National Child Oral Health Study 2012–14. Adelaide: University of Adelaide Press.
2. Healthdirect. Dental care for children [Online] 2017 [Accessed May 2019] Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/dental-care-for-children
3. Healthdirect. Tooth decay [Online] 2017 [Accessed May 2019] Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/tooth-decay
4. Healthdirect. Gum disease [Online] 2017 [Accessed May 2019] Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/gum-disease
5. Better Health Channel. Mouthguards [Online] 2014 [Accessed May 2019] Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/mouthguards