- By Dr. Damini Agarwal M.D.S,MDPH (London)  


Tooth decay or dental caries is a common dental problem, especially among babies and children. If left untreated, a decayed tooth can inflict pain in the short term and lead to future problems like infections, abscesses, jaw pains and gastrointestinal disorders. Like many other chronic diseases, early childhood caries can increase the risk of malnutrition and childhood obesity. The best prevention against tooth decay involves the two-pronged approach of maintaining proper dental care and a balanced, nutritional diet.

As primary caregivers, parents play an important role in protecting the young ones from tooth decay as the period between infancy to adolescence is when their teeth are the most susceptible to dental caries. Not only do you need to be vigilant in monitoring your children’s teeth and what they consume – and when to step in when they go overboard with sweets and snacks you need to keep track of their regular appointments with your family dentist.

Causes of childhood tooth decay and how to prevent them

Tooth decay in small children typically occurs when small holes known as cavities develop on the outer surface of their teeth. The primary cause of the early onset of cavities has to do with the fact that the protective layer of milk teeth is thinner and not as developed as adult teeth. This results in an unavoidable susceptibility to dental caries, which is further compounded by children’s propensity towards sugary or starchy foods, which can dramatically up the risk factor.

Any food that is high in sugar or starch contains fermentable carbohydrates that can contribute to tooth decay. All these foods produce cavity-causing acids that give rise to bacterial infection and plaque formation while bringing about demineralization – the process of eroding the outer enamel layer of the teeth.
Parents should pay attention not only to the components and nutritional value of the foods that their children consume but also the physical characteristics. The golden rule when it comes to the intake of sugary and starchy foods for young children is to reduce the frequency and eat in moderation. Since reduction is key, parents should adopt a gradual curb instead of a total ban on such foods, as that may have the opposite effect of increasing the desire. Of course, the adoption of positive oral hygiene and habits go hand in hand with the endeavour to maintain a healthy diet. The decay-causing bacteria in the mouth starts producing acids the moment you consume food or beverage that contains sugar or carbohydrates, thereby initiating the demineralization. The process normally goes on for about 20 or 30 minutes after the food or drink has been consumed. The best way to stop the process before it starts to harm their teeth is to make sure they brush and floss after each snack – especially if they stick to teeth. Also drinking lots of water will help to increase saliva flow, helpful towards neutralizing the acids and an aid in the remineralisation process.

Professional dental care is indispensable to tooth decay prevention

The practice of good dental hygiene has an important component that cannot be overlooked: Regular dental check-ups and professional cleaning. It is generally recommended to bring your child to the dentist when they reach 12 months of age. The early visit is designed to assess the child’s risk of developing dental or oral diseases. Inappropriate feeding can also cause caries among infants, therefore, early detection can lead to successful treatment. It is important to stem the infection before it wreaks havoc inside the baby’s mouth and starts to cause pain that the child is unable to verbalise.

By the time the child reaches three years old, it is a good time to start making regular twice-yearly trips to the dentist. A dental check-up normally consists of x-rays and professional cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist. An oral examination is essential for monitoring the development of your child’s oral hygiene progress and to check for any underlying issues that may lead to dental problems down the road, the most likely of which is tooth decay.

Family dentists typically combine the visit with an oral hygiene lesson, where your children pick up important skills on the right way to brush and floss. Beyond routine cleanings, the dentist or hygienist may also recommend fluoride treatments and dental sealants for your children, as effective preventive measures to combat caries. Dental sealants are thin, clear, plastic coatings that are used to provide an additional layer of protection against tooth decay. Likewise, fluoride treatments are recommended for children as an additional protection against cavities.


Not surprisingly, most children are not fond of visiting the dentist or being lectured on the need to brush and floss daily. Perhaps due to the child’s lack of cooperation or motivation to follow along, some parents go soft on the snacking restraints or procrastinate when it comes to bringing them to the dentist. It’s true that nobody likes to play the bad guy in the house but it certainly beats having to coax a child suffering the painful symptoms of tooth decay later. The key to your children avoiding a complicated procedure –or even surgery – is to take a proactive approach to their oral care from today.

If you want to know more schedule your appointment at +91-8576082888, 0522-4240647. 

Infinity Dental, A-1/54 A Vijaykhand, opposite gate no.2 lohia park, Gomtinagar,Lucknow.