Early education and child care professionals should include preventive practices in the curriculum. In addition, early educators have many opportunities to notice possible areas of decay on children’s teeth. Coupling prevention and early recognition of possible trouble with referral to an oral health professional can save significant suffering. Early decay looks like dull white bands on the smooth surface of the tooth at the gum line. It is caused by bacterial activity in the mouth. It is a form of infectious disease. Early decay may be reversible with fluoride treatment and removal of plaque that builds up on the teeth. If this early decay is not treated, it becomes yellow, brown or black spots. These spots are places where decay destroyed the tooth enamel. If you see chalky white spots or discoloration on a child's teeth, urge the child's family to take the child to a dentist as soon as possible.
Practice prevention. Avoid serving sugary drinks like juice. Use fruit for desserts and snacks instead. Save sweets like cookies for occasional mealtime desserts. After children eat, be sure they do tooth brushing or drink water to remove food from their teeth. Remind parents of children over one year of age to take their children to a dental professional for preventive care.
To learn more, use the Oral Health Self-Learning Module on this ECELS website in the section called Professional Development/Training. Reviewed and reaffirmed 5/2019