What are Early Childhood Caries?
Early Childhood Caries (ECC) is a major oral health concern in infants and children today. This disease is five times more common in children than asthma, and seven times more common than hay fever. Also known as Baby Bottle tooth decay, ECC occurs when toddler’s teeth come frequently in contact with sugars. Early Childhood Caries is one of the most common oral health problems in children. If left untreated, the caries can demolish the teeth, completely. This happens when the decay grows and becomes large, destroying the nerves and blood vessels inside the teeth, making it weak and lifeless.
Treatment of Early Childhood Caries
For Mild Conditions
Treatment of ECC can greatly vary on the severity of the condition and the child’s age. For the initial stages of ECC, fluoride treatment might be the most suitable option. Fluoride is known to strengthen the enamel of teeth. It reduces the risk of decay by making enamel stronger and can reverse very superficial tooth softening. A fluoride varnish can be applied on the child’s teeth, which helps in re-mineralizing the teeth, and making the enamel stronger and more resistant. Fluoride supplements can be given to older children that can also help.
There are also a few diet changes that can help in treating ECC:
* Limiting the intake of fizzy drinks and soft drinks
* Limiting the intake of citrus juices
* Replacing sweetened drinks with water
* Making sure that infants do not fall asleep with the milk bottle in their mouths
* Taking care of oral hygiene
For Severe Conditions
If the ECC has developed to a severe extent, there is a dire need for immediate and extensive treatment in order to restore the child’s teeth. A dentist might recommend stainless steel crowns which will help fortify the outer structure of the teeth. In some cases, some teeth might be extracted if the teeth are not salvageable or if they are causing infection. Treatments might vary depending on the child’s age, however, severe conditions of ECC are very hard to treat completely, and might cause problems for the child in adulthood.
Prevention of Early Childhood Caries
Prevention is better than these solutions, and always will be. It is easy to prevent children from acquiring ECC by taking a few simple precautions. Avoid feeding children sugary foods and beverages. Substitute fruit juices with water and take care of their oral hygiene. Avoid giving bottles to make toddlers sleep at night. If they must have a bottle to go to sleep, keep diluting the milk with water, slowly, over a few weeks, until the child is drinking only water.
Other precautions include:
* Giving bottles to children only during meals, and not throughout the day
* Cleaning the gums of babies with a soft toothbrush and water
* Teaching and encouraging children to start drinking from a cup instead of a bottle
* Visiting the dentist regularly for frequent checkups
Remember that good oral health is very important for adults and children, alike. And by following a few guidelines, we may be able to create a generation that focuses on dental wellbeing.