Childhood Cavities: What Causes them and How to Stop them
Dental Caries, or cavities, are the most prevalent and preventable disease afflicting children in the United States today. Most people know that to keep cavities away it takes diligent brushing, and a mouth-healthy diet. But, cavities can form from more obscure circumstances that are often easily avoided.
Dry mouth is caused by a lack of saliva, which helps prevent tooth decay and cavities by keeping teeth clean of food debris. Saliva also combats the acid produced by bad bacteria. You can help your child avoid dry mouth by having them drink enough water every day – around 64 ounces per day, or 8 large glasses.
Sticky foods stay on teeth long after they are enjoyed as a meal or snack. Food like bread, sticky granola bars, chips, or gummy snacks will expose teeth to sugar for longer periods of time, and cause a sustained acid attack on tooth enamel. After tooth enamel has eroded, teeth become much more susceptible to decay and cavities.
If your child enjoys sticky foods, have them rinse their mouth out with cool clean water after a meal to remove any excess food debris. Or, advise them to brush their teeth to remove the sticky food debris.
Tooth location actually plays a large role in where a cavity could occur. Molars and premolars (located in the back of the mouth) have a lot of grooves, pits and crannies that can collect food debris, and cause cavities.
To combat this, make sure that your child thoroughly brushes their back teeth when brushing, and doesn’t skip out on flossing teeth in the back of their mouth.
Infant Bedtime Bottle
It’s quite common for parents of infants and toddlers to give their child a bottle at bedtime. But, this is a mistake that can lead to early childhood carries – which are cavities in very young children. This occurs because milk and formula is high in sugar, and when sugar is left in the mouth without being rinsed, it can feed bad bacteria that causes cavities. If your child must have a bottle for bedtime, try giving them a bottle with water so that they avoid exposing their mouth to unnecessary sugar.
Unchecked snacking can expose teeth to a steady amount of sugar, which feeds bad bacteria that erodes tooth enamel and causes decay. Try monitoring your child’s snacking habits, and make sure that they are drinking plenty of water with their snacks, which will help wash away food debris and accumulated sugar. Or, give them specific snacking times to reduce overexposing their teeth to sugar.
Worn out Dental Devices
Children and teens with crowns and fillings can develop cavities near the device if it becomes old, or worn out. Over time, dental fillings can weaken and develop rough edges. This allows plaque to flourish in a hard-to-reach area, and can quickly result in a cavity. If your child complains of pain near a tooth filling or crown, then schedule a checkup with your dentist to accurately diagnose and treat the pain.
Schedule an Oral Health Checkup
We would love to get to know your family, and help your child earn a healthy smile that grows with them. We suggest scheduling an appointment with our office so that we can evaluate the state of your child’s mouth, and offer relevant guidance that will help them achieve optimal oral health.