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Early Childhood Caries


An early childhood caries, are one of the most common dental problems for children under the age of six. It is also one of the most preventable. At Gallatin Valley Pediatric Dentistry, we specialize in several preventive and restorative treatments that address this issue before greater complications arise.

According to the CDC, early tooth decay affects roughly 20 percent of young children. With our guidance as pediatric specialists, you can help your child stay out of this category. The following information will help you better understand early childhood caries.

What Causes Early Childhood Caries?


Dental caries, commonly referred to as tooth decay, is caused by the buildup of plaque, the thin biofilm that constantly forms on and around the teeth. Plaque contains harmful bacteria that feed off simple carbohydrates like sugar. As they feed, these bacteria produce acids that attack the enamel, which results in tooth decay.

Your child may be more susceptible to early caries due to certain risk factors, some of which include:
•  Lack of professional care: If your child has not seen a dentist yet, tooth decay is imminent.
•  Baby bottle tooth decay: Putting your child to bed with a bottle that contains anything but water can result in significant decay.
•  Lack of oral hygiene: The American Dental Association (ADA) wants parents to know that teeth are susceptible to decay as soon as they appear. Be sure to implement an oral hygiene regimen after feedings.
•  Genetics: Unfortunately, some children are more vulnerable to tooth decay due to hereditary issues.

Preventing Early Childhood Caries


Prevention is a large part of pediatric dentistry. The best way to prevent early childhood caries is with a strong oral hygiene routine, even before the first teeth erupt. You can clean an infant’s gums with water and a wet washcloth.

After the teeth appear, brush your child’s teeth at least twice a day, especially after meals and before bed. It would help if you used a toothbrush designed specifically for children and fluoridated toothpaste. Once your child is old enough to brush on their own, be sure they implement the proper techniques.

Flossing once a day is also a crucial step in preventing caries. Flossing allows you or your child to remove food debris and plaque from in between the teeth. These areas usually remain unaffected by a toothbrush.

Finally, be sure to schedule regular appointments with us. Routine exams and professional cleanings are a vital part of keeping harmful bacteria at bay. The ADA recommends scheduling their first appointment as soon as their baby teeth begin to erupt.

Treatment for Early Childhood Caries


If Dr. Joni or Dr. Justin diagnose your child with early childhood tooth decay, the next step is developing an appropriate treatment plan. Caries in the primary (baby) teeth are usually treated with dental fillings. Extensive decay may require a more advanced restoration.

Significant tooth decay may result in bacteria getting into the pulp tissue where the nerves and blood vessels are. If this occurs, we will need to perform a pulpotomy also known as a nerve treatment where a part of the tissue is removed, and a medicine is placed to allow the tooth to heal. A pediatric dental crown is recommended to restore a tooth with a pulpotomy.

Schedule an Appointment


Protect your child’s oral health with regular visits! Call 406-224-4272 to schedule an appointment today!
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Phone


406-224-4272

Hours


Mon 8:30-5:00
Tue – Fri 7:30-4
*Monday and Friday hours vary by week