Cavities in kids have multiple contributing factors, some of which include tooth anatomy and spacing, diet, bacterial type and saliva quality. One thing we can help to control is the dietary component. First, think about your child’s frequency of snacking throughout the day. Each time they snack or consume drinks other than water (i.e. milk, juice, sports drinks), food particles or a sticky film remain on their teeth. Have you ever looked into your child’s mouth after they eat a pack of goldfish? Give it a try! Most likely you’ll see orange food particles sitting in the deep grooves of their back teeth.
We all know snacks like crackers or goldfish aren’t full of sugar but the carbohydrates in them linger in their mouth and then break down into simple sugars. Bacteria then feeds on these sugars and produce acid, which causes tooth decay. That’s how (even if we limit our children’s sugar intake) everyday eating and drinking can still cause cavities. The more snacking throughout the day, the greater the risk for increased cavities.
How to break the cavity cycle:
We understand that you aren’t going to be able to eliminate snacking and definitely aren’t telling you not to allow your child to snack throughout the day. We suggest having a designated “snack time” instead of your child constantly carrying a snack around. Children should also have water with their snack to help rinse away the carbs and save drinks like juice or milk for meal time only. For older kids, removing snacks and sugary drinks from their bedroom is also extremely helpful. This removes the temptation to eat or drink after nighttime brushing.
Speaking of brushing, proper hygiene is always an excellent defense to control the formation of cavities. Children should be brushing twice a day for a full two minutes AND flossing at night. For young children we suggest parent supervision and/or assistance during bedtime brushing to confirm that the cleaning actually is being done by the child, as well as being performed effectively. For more tips about brushing your children’s teeth, check out our brushing video library.
The Progression of Cavities:
Does it seem like every time you take your child to their routine dental visits they discover a new cavity despite your best efforts? Unfortunately this story is not uncommon and here’s why.
Multiple cavities can start around the same time but develop at different speeds. Cavities happen in a multistage process and it is very common for a dentist to see several weak spots forming that are so small that they only need observation. Over time some of these areas can grow into cavities that need attention but at different rates. This can cause the perception of new cavities developing even after favorable changes in proper hygiene practices. In these cases, it is best to focus on how the improved hygiene is slowing the growth of the cavities so they all don’t require treatment at the same time. Therefore, your dentist isn’t finding “new cavities” at each visit, they are just developing at different rates. If you do have a true concern, ASK your dentist. They will be happy to help you understand the x-ray and the progression of cavities in your child’s mouth and help you form a plan to prevent them in the future.
If you have any questions regarding your child’s dental health or you just need a second opinion on a treatment plan, please give us a call to schedule a time to speak with our Board Certified Pediatric Dentist’s – Dr. Will & Dr. Mike. Or click the calendar icon to send us an appointment request. We hope to see you soon!