If you’re a parent of a young child, a big question that you might have for your dentist is how to prevent cavities. Like adults, children can get cavities, too. From the time their first baby teeth emerge about age 1, children are susceptible to tooth decay. Here at the Center for Pediatric Dental Health, we want to do everything that we can to equip parents to help their children maintain healthy, beautiful smiles. That’s why we’ve dedicated this post to providing education about children’s cavities and how to prevent them.
What is a cavity?
Let’s start with the basics. What is a cavity? Simply put, a cavity is a spot on a tooth that has decayed due to a buildup of plaque. The plaque eats away at the protective enamel on a tooth until it creates a hole. Tooth decay is one of the most common dental issues in children and toddlers. Poor dental hygiene, genetics, and diet can all contribute to a child’s tooth decay.
It is a false assumption that tooth decay in baby teeth isn’t dangerous, since they will soon be replaced with permanent, adult teeth. Children rely on their baby teeth to chew, eat, and speak properly. Left untreated, tooth decay in baby teeth can cause pain and other issues with these basic daily life functions. Additionally, a baby tooth that falls out too early due to decay may affect the proper growth of the permanent tooth that replaces it.
What are signs your child might have a cavity?
Unfortunately, not all cavities are easily recognized by parents. That is why it is so important to schedule regular checkups with your pediatric dentist, at least once every six months. Pediatric dentists such as Dr. Emily and Dr. Kristianne are trained specifically to identify and to treat tooth decay in children before it becomes a more serious issue.
While it may be difficult to identify a cavity on your child’s tooth, there are a few signs that may indicate your child has tooth decay. If your child is experiencing one or more of these symptoms, schedule a checkup with your pediatric dentist as soon as possible:
- unusually dark or white spots on the tooth
- excessive crying or fussiness
- clear sensitivity to cold foods or drinks
- mouth swelling
- food avoidance
- general lethargy
How to prevent cavities in children?
Fortunately, most cases of severe tooth decay in children are preventable. Good oral hygiene, a healthy diet, and regular visits to the dentist can keep your child’s smile healthy and bright. Children should brush their teeth at least two times per day with a fluoridated toothpaste and a toothbrush. Many children will need help brushing their teeth properly until they are at least age 6. Brushing for two minutes is best for a thorough cleaning.
In addition to brushing twice a day, children should floss at least once per day. This ensures that leftover food does not get trapped between teeth, which could lead to cavities.
In addition to daily oral hygiene, children should eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet. Avoiding overly sugary and starchy foods will help prevent plaque buildup on teeth. Foods incredibly high in sugar, such as candy, cookies, soda, and even fruit juice, can damage teeth if not properly moderated.
Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables ensures that your child is not only getting the benefit of all the good vitamins and minerals, but also the high water content of these foods, which serves as a pre-cleaner for teeth! As always, it is important to brush your child’s teeth after meals, particularly those that may be higher in sugar or starch.
Compassionate pediatric dental care
At the Center for Pediatric Dental Health, we are parents ourselves. We know that you would do anything to help your children live their healthiest, best lives. That is why we are so passionate about helping children achieve a healthy smile for life.
We want to give you, as parents, the tools and information you need to set your child up for oral health success. If your child has already experienced tooth decay, we will work with you to repair the damaged area and to prevent future cavities.
If you are looking for a pediatric dentist in West Central New Jersey, the Center for Pediatric Dental Health family wants to meet you! At our offices, you and your child will experience a positive, compassionate environment, where you can feel at ease.