Cavities are no fun for anyone – child or parent – so it’s important to understand what causes them so that you can do what you need to do for your child to prevent them from forming.
There are two main types of cavities – those that form on the surface of the teeth, and those that form below the surface. The former is called “enamel cavities”, while the latter is called “root cavities”.
So, what causes cavities??
Simply put, bacteria are responsible for cavities. But how do bacteria get into your child’s mouth? Foods containing carbohydrates – sugars and starches – can remain on the teeth, especially when good dental hygiene is not practiced.
These foods include things like milk, soda, candy, fruit juices, cereals, bread, and even other foods you might not suspect can cause cavities, like raisins. The bacteria that naturally live in the mouth change these foods into acids.
The combination of bacteria, acids, food particles, and saliva forms a substance we all know as plaque, which teeth. Over time, the acids made by the bacteria can erode tooth enamel, causing cavities to form. The best way to prevent cavities is to practice good dental hygiene, including brushing and flossing regularly and to eat a healthy diet.
Spotting tooth decay/cavities?
Though decay doesn’t look exactly the same in every mouth, there are ways to detect it.
- You can identify early decay in your child’s teeth by looking for white spots. These are a sign that the enamel is starting to break down. This can also make your child’s teeth very sensitive, so if they’ve been complaining about pain from hot or cold foods, take a look and see if you can detect such spots.
- As cavities start to form, you’ll detect a light brown color on the tooth. If the cavity is allowed to become deeper, that brown color will become darker or turn black.
- Your child may also begin to complain about pain in the affected tooth or teeth area. That’s a good indication that there’s a problem.
How can I prevent cavities?
These days, cavities don’t have to be a rite of passage for children. There’s plenty you can do from the start to spare your child the pain associated with cavities.
- As soon as you see a tooth appear in your baby’s mouth, start brushing his/her teeth. It starts with just a little dab of toothpaste the size of a grain of rice and a very soft brush, but even 30 seconds of brushing can do a world of good.
- As your child grows, keep helping them brush or supervise their brushing to make sure they’re doing it correctly. You can also increase the amount of toothpaste used once your child reaches about age 3.
- At age 2, it’s the right time to begin flossing. Again, you’ll need to help your child until he/she is able to do it themself.
- A well-balanced diet is a key to healthy teeth. While it’s okay to offer a treat now and then, avoid regular consumption of items such as soda, fruit juices, candy, cookies, chips, and sticky foods.
Routine dental care
Remember, your baby can see a pediatric dentist as soon as a tooth appears. He/she can help you understand how to care for your baby’s teeth and how to avoid habits that cause cavities. As your little one grows, schedule regular appointments for care so that your child gets to know their dentist.
A good relationship between dentist and patient helps seal the bonds of trust and your child will be more likely to do what’s necessary to keep their mouth healthy.
Most parents don’t think about taking their children to see a dentist until they are much older. However, it’s important to take your child to see a pediatric dentist as soon as their first tooth comes in. A pediatric dentist can help you understand how to care for your baby’s teeth and how to avoid habits that cause cavities. As your little one grows, schedule regular appointments for care so that your child gets to know their dentist.