Tooth decay is something normally associated with adults, but it’s happening more and more in young children and toddlers. Dental caries is the most common chronic childhood disease, five times more common than asthma in children, and significantly more prevalent than chronic bronchitis.
Untreated caries in children may affect the growth of adult teeth, with poor dental health and disease persisting into adulthood. Caries can lead to infection, pain, abscesses, chewing problems, malnutrition and gastrointestinal disorders. It can affect speech and articulation, and like many chronic diseases, the risk factors of early childhood caries also contribute to childhood obesity and malnutrition.
Children with poor dental health may experience associated symptoms, including inadequate nutrition, poor self-esteem and problems with speech development.
It is not unusual to find multiple cavities in children under age of five. In toddlers, teeth start to decay, even before they are completely in. Parents have a tendency to believe that baby teeth are not important because they fall out, but the truth is baby teeth play an important role as place holders for permanent teeth. If baby teeth is lost early, the teeth beside it may drift into the empty space. When it is time for the adult teeth to come in, there may not be enough room. This can make the teeth crooked or crowded which can require braces.