Suwanee Dental Care

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Is My Child at Risk for Cavities?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Cavities

One of a parent’s biggest worries when taking their child to the dentist is whether or not he or she will have any cavities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among children ages 2 to 11 years old. When tooth decay becomes severe, it can lead to the need for extensive dental work, including fillings, crowns, and even root canals on young children. Parents should be aware that their child could be at risk for developing cavities, and that there are ways to keep your kids’ mouths healthy and cavity-free.

Tooth decay, also known as dental caries, is an infection caused by the bacteria mutans streptococcus, which is very commonly found in the mouth. This group of bacteria can easily be transferred from parents to their children by sharing utensils or toothbrushes. Parents who have several cavities themselves should be especially wary of this. While it is easy to forget and eat off the same spoon as your toddler, remember that you can be giving him germs that could lead to trouble down the road.

One of the more commonly thought of reasons for cavities in children is their tendency to eat candy and sugary snacks. Constant snacking, excessive amounts of soda or juice, and candy that contains high amounts of sugar certainly contribute to tooth decay. The bacteria that cause tooth decay feed on sugar, and then produce plaque that contains acid. This acid eats away at tooth enamel, weakening the tooth structure and depleting calcium. The lack of calcium causes the surface of the tooth to collapse, thus resulting in a cavity. The more sugar that goes into a child’s mouth, the more likely plaque is going to find a home on his teeth. Sippy cups and bottles are especially bad for teeth, as children tend to carry them around and drink out of them constantly throughout the day.

Another reason why children are so prone to cavities is because their primary teeth, or baby teeth, are much more fragile than permanent teeth. The enamel on primary teeth is weak and porous, which makes it much easier for them to be broken down by plaque. Not all primary teeth with cavities may need fillings, as these teeth will fall out eventually. However, many dentists may recommend fillings if it is too early for the tooth to fall out. Fillings also prevent infection from spreading and relieve your child from any pain he might be having from a cavity.

You can help your kids have healthy teeth by decreasing the amount of sugar they consume, keeping up with at-home care, and making regular visits to the dentist. Brushing and flossing your child’s teeth is important, and should be started as early as the first baby tooth erupts. Check-ups and cleanings ensure the removal of pesky plaque that has built up, and your dentist may also recommend sealants to protect your child’s teeth from further infection.  

Starting healthy habits at an early age can drastically decrease your child’s likelihood to develop cavities. Ask your dentist for more tips on childhood oral healthcare, so that the next time you take your child in for an appointment, you aren’t sitting at the edge of your seat at the possibility of a cavity.