Caries is a disease of teeth that is caused by bacteria. Caries can affect both the deciduous (baby) teeth and permanent teeth. Early Childhood Caries is when the disease affects children's teeth. A baby's teeth begin to develop very early in pregnancy, even before birth. There are usually 20 primary teeth (also called deciduous teeth). The baby gets these teeth between 6 months and 3 years of age. Then, between the ages of 6 and 12, the child gets 32 permanent teeth. The primary teeth begin to fall out when the child is about 6 years old. The permanent teeth begin to erupt when the child is between the ages of 6 and 12. There are many risk factors for Early Childhood Caries. The disease is more common in malnourished children or children who are exposed to cigarette smoke. Early childhood caries can disrupt sleep. It can make it difficult for a child to fall asleep. Sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea, also make it difficult for children to get enough sleep.
As children, we watch their every move and insist that they brush their teeth after every meal and before bedtime. So what happens when they don't complete these tasks? Often, tooth decay follows.
But did you know that inflammation is also linked to both childhood caries and sleep disorders? That's because the same bacteria that causes cavities also leads to chronic inflammation. As the enamel erodes away, the bacteria can infect the dentin layer underneath. This can lead to further inflammation throughout the body. When this occurs, the body sends signals that increase inflammation even more. This creates a cycle that can lead to insomnia and other sleep disorders.In addition to causing inflammation, this bacterial buildup can also lead to other forms of infections. For example, when a child has inflamed gums from untreated decay, they may struggle to sleep well at night. If left untreated, it can even lead to sleep apnea.
Oral appliances help your child breathe better at night by preventing their tongue and soft palate from blocking their airway. Many children also suffer from allergies, which can also cause snoring. Mouth guards can help clear the nasal passages and allow for better oxygen flow throughout the night. A dentist may recommend an oral appliance for children who snore loudly and have issues with daytime sleepiness. An oral appliance can also prevent the possibility of your child suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. This condition can occur in children who are overweight or have a family history of sleep apnea.
Chaffee Pediatric Dentistry provides solutions for all your child's dental problems. We are located at 1239 East McKellips Rd #107, Mesa, AZ 85203. You can reach us at 480.739.2993.