Childhood cavities, unfortunately, are not rare. Childhood tooth decay is found all over the world, and the primary causes are usually the same—sugary diets and poor dental hygiene.
Cavities can often be very painful, and they often lead to tooth decay and childhood periodontitis if the cavities are left untreated. However, by ensuring that your child has a balanced diet, has his or her teeth cared for regularly at home, and visits a pediatric dentist at least twice a year, the risk of cavities drops significantly.
Causes of cavities
Cavities are formed from regular exposure to sugary foods. These sugars (as well as carbohydrates, from white bread, for example) gather around and on your child’s teeth after eating. The sticky residue known as plaque forms on the enamel of the tooth. This plaque contains oral bacteria, which ingest the sugar particles, creating a byproduct of acid. This acid first weakens a tooth’s enamel. With weakened enamel, your child’s teeth are vulnerable to decay. If the conditions persist, the acid will penetrate the tooth, causing the erosion known as a cavity.
How can I prevent cavities?
Though imperative to the cause, the biannual visits to a pediatric dentist are just one part of cavity prevention. Follow these guidelines at home for increased safety:
- Pay attention to the amount of sugar you child ingests. Keep it to a minimum.
- Limit the snacks. If you child has sugar-rich food, it should be at meal time when more saliva is present and your child is drinking water.
- Sticky foods should be avoided. They will stick to teeth, forming plaque rapidly.
- Rinse his or her pacifier. Anything that goes into your child’s mouth should be clean.
- No drinks after the nightly brushing. Milk and juice will sit on the teeth all night if not cleaned.
- Brush and floss. You should brush your child’s teeth at least twice a day, ensuring that all areas of the mouth are covered.
- Don’t miss appointments. Keep to a regular dental schedule and you and your child will have happy smiles.