By the time your baby reaches their first birthday, chances are they will have several teeth inside their mouth. Somewhere between the age of
2 and 3, your toddler will likely have all of their baby teeth, which means it’s important to keep those teeth healthy and safe.
While regular brushing helps, parents also need to know what causes tooth decay and what it looks like so they can spot the signs of tooth decay in their toddler’s mouth before it spreads too far and causes cavities.
What Causes Toddler Tooth Decay?
Most parents assume that sugary snacks and juices are the only things that can cause cavities for their toddlers. According to Saginaw Pediatric Dentistry, though, there are a variety of dietary and non-dietary causes of tooth decay in young children.
Sweeter, sugary substances do cause tooth decay because they promote the growth of bacteria that eventually leads to cavities. These items include candy, donuts, sugary drinks like sodas, and even many fruit
Salty and starchy snacks
Salty and starchy snacks can also cause tooth decay in toddlers and preschoolers too. Since items like chips, crackers, biscuits, and cookies are primarily made from carbohydrates, they eventually break down into simple sugars
within the mouth — and these simple sugars can wreck your kids’ teeth just as much as the sugary snacks you already know to avoid.
There are also some non-dietary factors that can lead to the development of tooth decay for toddlers. This includes poor oral hygiene, low saliva levels, and even excessive snoring
Furthermore, extended bottle use beyond one year of life and going to bed with a cup of milk or other beverage that isn’t water can also cause tooth decay over time.
What Are The Signs Of Tooth Decay In Toddlers?
Because most parents aren’t dentists, it’s hard to recognize the early signs of tooth decay, especially when your child is quite young. In general, though, experts with The State of Victoria’s (Australia) Department of Health say parents can look for these common early signs of tooth decay in toddlers and preschoolers:
- A dull white band on the tooth surface closest to the gum line
- Red and swollen gums
- Dark spots on teeth
In many cases, dull-white bands close to the gum line are the first signs of tooth decay for toddlers, but most parents don’t know what to look for or simply miss this sign entirely. If these white spots persist unnoticed, however,
they will eventually worsen to the point that a hole or pit forms in your child’s tooth.
As tooth decay continues to form, the team at Park Place Pediatric Dentistry notes that your toddler may
suddenly complain of teeth sensitivities to hot, cold, or sweet foods. Parents should not ignore or brush off these sensitivities, as they can indicate that the decay has already progressed to a cavity — which means your child should see a
dentist right away.
Furthermore, discoloration on teeth is also a sign of tooth decay.