It is estimated that approximately 42% of children between the ages of 2-11 have had dental caries within their primary teeth.
That’s almost half.
So why do we see so many kids with cavities, and what can we do to prevent this? Well, for starters we need to make sure we understand the importance of oral hygiene and the consequences of not paying attention to it. One very common and unfortunate consequence includes tooth decay in the form of cavities.
But before we get into the prevention and causes, let’s have a look at the actual definition.
What Are Cavities?
Tooth decay generally refers to the breakdown of the hardest substance on our teeth – the enamel. When this enamel breaks down even further, we observe holes within the teeth. And these holes are what we call cavities.
What Causes Tooth Decay in Children?
Children are often more susceptible to cavities, what with all the candy that comes their way. Sweeter, sugary substances tend to promote the growth of bacteria which contributes to an exacerbated situation of tooth decay in a child. Here are just a few of the many culprits involved.
Candies are full of all kinds of processed sugars that are quite terrible for your teeth. Some candies even get stuck between the teeth which leads to an increase in the growth of bad bacteria, further promoting the decay of your child’s teeth.
It is best to offer these foods as treats and not make them an everyday snack.
2. Salted and Starchy Snacks
When you think of sugar you probably think of the white granulated sugar you have in your home. But all of your favorite snacks including chips, crackers, biscuits, and cookies are made up of carbohydrates. These carbohydrates then break down into simple sugars that are armed with the ability to destroy those pearly whites.
3. Sugary Foods and Drinks
And let’s not forget the lethal combination of carbohydrates and sugars. Those decadent looking donuts, fizzy, sugary drinks, and even canned juices can be lethal for your oral hygiene.
If it sounds to you like we’ve included all foods on this list, we haven’t. You’ve got some great tooth-friendly options like veggies, carrots, nuts, seeds, yogurts, and cheeses that make perfectly healthy snacks for your children.
This is not to say that they should go their whole lives without another dessert, but moderation is something that would do them well to practice.
Non-Dietary Contributors to Tooth Decay
While food plays a significant role in determining your oral health, there are other contributing factors as well. Some of these include poor oral hygiene like infrequent brushing of teeth and low levels of saliva or dry mouth. If you suspect that it might be something else, do get a consultation with a dentist to investigate the issue further.
Spotting the Symptoms of Tooth Decay
Spotting tooth decay in children is fairly easy if you communicate with your child often and openly. But sometimes, if the decay is happening in a more inconspicuous location of the mouth, it might be harder to spot.
Here are a few signs to look for.
- Complains of sensitivity to certain foods or temperatures (too hot/ too cold)
- Spots on the surface of your child’s teeth
- Changes in the color of the teeth to brown, dark brown or black
- Pain around or within the tooth
No matter how vigilant you are, these signs can still slip under your radar sometimes. That’s why it is imperative that you get your child regular appointments at the dentist’s office. A quick check-up now and then can save your child a lot of pain and trouble.
How to Treat Kids With Cavities
In addition to maintaining good oral health practices, your dentist will recommend removing the decayed part and replacing it with a filling of some sort. This is called a restoration.
Direct restoration requires a single visit to the dentist where the decayed part is removed and replaced with a filling made from silver, resin or some other kind of material.
Alternatively, your child may also need an indirect restoration where the dentist may opt for inlays, veneers, bridges or crowns. A new kind of treatment called silver diamine fluoride is also breaking ground in the world of dentistry. This liquid helps reduce the aggravation of tooth decay until your child’s primary teeth fall out.
This, of course, is not an option for every child, but you could always consult your dentist to see if they recommend it for you.
A Guide to Prevention
As a parent or guardian, there’s no better tool than prevention. So here are a few things you can do.
- Start the brushing routine at the first sign of teeth
- Opt for toothpaste with fluoride
- Cultivate healthy habits like flossing, when your child is old enough
- Make sure your child is developing healthy eating habits
Schedule a Regular Visit to the Dentist
Frequent visits are vital to the oral health of your child. This is especially true for kids with cavities because they need to have their teeth regularly cleaned and checked to make sure that their fillings are still intact.
However, even if your kid does not have a history of oral problems, it always pays to stay on the safe side.
Looking for a qualified dentist for your next appointment? Check out our vast range of pediatric dental services and schedule your appointment today!