11 holes in 20 teeth, and she's only 4 years old

Wednesday, 8 May 2019
11 holes in 20 teeth, and she's only 4 years old

"My four year-old daughter visited the dentist a couple of months ago for her annual check-up. At her last check up, everything was fine. She has a ten-year-old brother and seven-year-old sister who’ve had no problems with their teeth (so far, fingers crossed). As I followed the same tooth care routine for her, I didn’t think there would be much to worry about.

So I was in disbelief when the dentist told me my daughter had 11 holes in her teeth – yes, 11 holes!

First came the shock – how did that to happen my four year old daughter in just a year? Then came the guilt and shame – I had let my child down so badly. Where did I go wrong and how could I have let that happen?

The dentist, who also cares for my two older children’s teeth, saw the look on my face and must have read what I was thinking.

She explained to me that different people have different levels of acidity in their mouth and amounts of enamel on their teeth. When our mouths are more acidic (pH 5.5 or lower), teeth will erode, become discoloured, and be at risk of getting holes. When our mouth is alkaline (at pH 7.5 or above), our teeth can re-mineralise and become stronger. 

My 4 year old had enamel problems and needed 11 fillings

People with acidic saliva can often experience dental problems because their own saliva can damage their teeth. And if you are unlucky enough to have a naturally thin layer of enamel on your teeth, then the damage can occur faster. Maybe my daughter had both high acidity in her mouth and thin teeth enamel. (Go here to see what to do if you or your child have enamel problems).



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I was puzzled. We eat lots of fruit and veggies and don’t have many treats

When I was told that erosion and decay are worse when we sip drinks or nibble acidic foods frequently, I was puzzled. We eat lots of fruit and veggies, don’t have too many treats, and only drink soft drinks and juices for birthdays and special occasions. If fruit and veggies are good for our health, they must be good for our teeth, right? Not necessarily.

2 in 3 preschoolers at risk of tooth decay

When the dentist told me about the types of foods that are more acidic, the puzzle fell into place. My daughter is a grazer, eating small amounts of food throughout the day – which is not great for her teeth. Worse though was that her favourite snacks were acidic fruits like grapes, mandarins and oranges. So the acidity in her mouth didn’t really have much of a chance to settle down.

Apples and carrots have lots of fibre to help scrub your teeth

We were given advice to avoid her favourite snacks, and instead give her fruits and veggies like apples and carrots which have lots of fibre to help scrub her teeth, and hard cheeses which help neutralise the acidity in her mouth.

4 year old child with tooth decay needs 11 fillings

7 ways to stop your teeth from rotting
We were also referred to a specialist children’s dentist. My daughter went into a day hospital and had her 11 holes fixed while she was under a general anaesthetic. She now has 4 crowns, which I’m still getting over (I thought I would have crowns before her). Luckily, she happily refers to them as her ‘fairy princess teeth’ because they are sparkly.

Some children can have less teeth enamel

Less teeth enamel can occur in children from birth or can develop soon after. Kids with less teeth enamel (hypomineralisation) need special dental care, and diagnosing teeth enamel problems in children at an early age is key to preventing serious teeth problems.  We didn't know that my daughter had less tooth enamel, if we had of known earlier then we could have prevented a lot of the issues. Here is a list of signs and what to do if your child had low tooth enamel.

The procedure cost nearly $5,000 (ouch!)

The procedure cost nearly $5,000 (ouch!), but it was necessary because her baby teeth would not have lasted until she had her adult teeth. My daughter is now booked in for check-ups every six months.

We are very lucky in Australia to have access to the Child Dental Benefits Scheme, which provides up to $1,000 per annum in dental services through Medicare, for eligible children aged 2 – 17 years (and Inspiro treats all children up to 12 years of age completely free).

So, it’s never too early to take our kids to see the dentist, get them used to having regular check-ups, and prevent dental problems early on

Click here to find out why using tooth mouse on your children's teeth can help prevent decay. 

About Inspiro's dental service

Inspiro is dedicated to providing great dental care for children. Our dental outreach team visits primary schools and kinders to do basic dental check-ups and teach kids how to take care of their teeth. Inspiro offers a free dental service for children up to 12 years old, and children with Child Dental Benefits Scheme are bulk billed with no out-of-pocket fees.

You can learn more about Inspiro's dental services by clicking here.

If your children haven’t seen a dentist recently, you can book a dental appointment today by calling 9028 0153 or


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