Parents want to ensure that their children are in good health and grow up strong. While physical and mental health are what most parents focus on, a child’s oral health is equally important. Childhood tooth decay is a widespread condition affecting more children than any other health condition. Childhood cavities can be easily prevented, but for many reasons, pediatric tooth decay continues to be a significant health concern.
One of the largest reasons is that parents undermine cavities’ ability to negatively affect their child. While cavities can be routinely treated with fillings, this can be more difficult with young children who get cavities in their primary, or baby teeth.
Primary Teeth and Why They Are Important
Some parents underestimate or fail to see the importance of their child’s baby, or primary teeth as each of these teeth will naturally fall out to be replaced with permanent, adult teeth. It can be easy to discount the health and care of primary teeth since they will all fall out on their own anyways.
What is often overlooked is the risk of cavities to incoming permanent teeth. Sometimes cavities in baby teeth can seep into and infiltrate the up-and-coming permanent teeth underneath.
While it may seem like children can care less about how they look, children, especially older children, can become self-conscious of their smile. If they have cavities, they may dislike their smile even more, covering it up as they think it is unhealthy.
Heightened Fear of the Dentist
Children who have multiple cavities due to poor diets and/or poor hygiene routines may come to associate cavities with the dental office. If they are already afraid of the dentist because of the sounds, smell, busy environment, etc. they will now have another reason to fear the dentist: it is a source of bad news. The dentist will find something wrong and may subject the child to mild chastisement. This fear of the dentist can carry into adulthood which can make him or her less likely to see their dentist regularly for their oral check-up and examinations.
Poor Oral Health Routines
Children who get cavities in their baby teeth are likely to be encouraged by their dentist or parents to alter and improve their oral hygiene routines. Children will either heed this advice or reject it. Children who get accustomed to cavities and don’t see them as a big deal can develop poor hygiene routines, not realizing the importance of good oral hygiene and healthy teeth and gums.
Cavities, if left untreated in children and adults can lead to tooth loss. While this type of severe tooth decay often doesn’t get too out of hand in children, baby teeth can be prematurely lost. When this happens, a child can experience a temporary speech impediment and some minor eating difficulty. Children are also at a higher risk of getting crooked teeth that may require orthodontic treatment to correct.
A childhood cavity isn’t just a slight accident that can be quickly treated and forgotten about. Cavities can scar children mentally, causing them to develop an unhealthy view of oral hygiene and health, have a heightened fear of the dentist and a lowered self-esteem.
It is important to take adequate care of your child’s teeth, especially their primary teeth. It is recommended that children be regularly brought into the dental office by the age of one. The earlier children are introduced to the dental office, the more comfortable they will be. Whether your child is one or older, contact your pediatric dentist today to schedule an appointment to help them avoid pediatric tooth decay.