How to Prevent Cavities
Childhood cavities, also known as childhood tooth decay and childhood caries, are common in children all over the world. There are two main causes of cavities: poor dental hygiene and sugary diets.
Cavities can be incredibly painful and often lead to tooth decay and childhood periodontitis if left untreated. Ensuring that children eat a balanced diet, embarking on a sound home oral care routine, and visiting the dentist biannually are all crucial factors for both cavity prevention and excellent oral health.
What causes cavities?
Cavities form when children’s teeth are exposed to sugary foods on a regular basis. Sugars and carbohydrates (like the ones found in white bread) collect on and around the teeth after eating. A sticky film (plaque) then forms on the tooth enamel. The oral bacteria within the plaque continually ingest sugar particles and emit acid. Initially, the acid attacks the tooth enamel, weakening it and leaving it vulnerable to tooth decay. If conditions are allowed to worsen, the acid begins to penetrate the tooth enamel and erodes the inner workings of the tooth.
Although primary (baby) teeth are eventually lost, they fulfill several important functions and should be protected. It is essential that children brush and floss twice per day (ideally more) with the help of a parent or guardian.
How can I prevent cavities at home?
Biannual visits with the dentist are only part of the battle against cavities. Here are some helpful guidelines for cavity prevention:
Analyze the diet – Too many sugary or starchy snacks can expedite cavity formation.
Cut the snacks – Snacking too frequently can unnecessarily expose teeth to sugars.
Lose the sippy cup – Sippy cups are thought to cause “baby bottle tooth decay” when they are used beyond the intended age (approximately twelve months). The small amount of liquid emitted with each sip causes sugary liquid to continually swill around the teeth.
Avoid stickiness – Sticky foods form plaque quickly and are extremely difficult to pry off the teeth.
Rinse the pacifier – Oral bacteria can be transmitted from mother or father to baby. Rinse a dirty pacifier with running water as opposed to sucking on it to avoid contaminating the baby’s mouth.
Drinks at bedtime – Sending a child to bed with a bottle or sippy cup is bad news. The milk, formula, juice, or sweetened water basically sits on the teeth all night – attacking enamel and maximizing the risk of cavities. Ensure the child has a last drink before bedtime, and then brush the teeth.
Don’t sweeten the pacifier
Brush and floss – Parents should brush and floss their child’s teeth twice each day until the child reaches the age of 7 to 10 years old depending on the child. Before this time, children struggle to brush every area of the mouth effectively.
Check on fluoride –When used correctly, fluoride can strengthen tooth enamel and help stave off cavities.
Keep to appointments
If you have questions or concerns about cavity prevention, please contact our office.