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Oral Health and Home Care

Tooth Decay

Decay can start as soon as your child’s first tooth comes in and can be very painful for your child. Most often decay starts in the upper front teeth, but any tooth can be affected and can cause your child to lose their teeth. Tooth decay can happen when food, a beverage, or germs sit on your child’s teeth for too long. Germs can get into your child’s mouth from the saliva of others, such as yours or other adults or children. Germs live in a soft, sticky layer on your teeth called plaque. Plaque is the number-one cause of the two most common dental diseases: tooth decay and gum disease.

Tooth decay starts as chalky white spots usually on the upper front teeth near the gums. The white spots can quickly become dark (cavities) within 30 days if not treated by a dentist.

  • If you see white or dark spots, take your child to the dentist as soon as possible!

  • Foods and drinks, such as sugar, honey, soda, other sweetened drinks, baby formula, milk, and bread, can cause tooth decay.

The good news is you can take simple steps at home to prevent decay:

  • Continue regular dental visits for your child in the dental home.
  • Parents\caregivers have a continuing role in brushing the child’s teeth, twice a day and especially at bedtime.
  • Don’t forget to floss their teeth, at least once a day.
  • Use a very small amount (pea-sized drop) of fluoride toothpaste. More specifically one that provides cavity protection.
  • As a parent\caregiver, maintain your own oral health through regular dental visits and treatment, if needed, to reduce the spread of bacteria to the child.
  • Avoid sharing things that have been in your own mouth with your child.
  • Check the child’s front and back teeth for white, brown, or black spots. (Signs of tooth decay.)
  • Become familiar with the appearance of the child’s mouth.
  • Consider dental sealants for primary (baby) and permanent (adult) teeth as indicated. Dental sealants are thin, plastic coatings that are painted on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to prevent decay. Applying them is simple and painless.

With good oral hygiene, plus dental sealants, your child may grow up without tooth decay.


Written By: Dr. Ngo