Did you know that tooth decay is the primary reason for missed school days in the United States? While cavities can develop on teeth at any stage of life, children are most susceptible. It is important to realize that cavities on baby teeth demand treatment just like they do on adult teeth. Untreated decay on primary teeth can threaten the health of permanent teeth emerging behind them, as well as compromise proper speech and chewing development.
While not every child will get a cavity, some are more prone than others. In fact, there are several factors that can make your child at an increased risk for decay. Some of these factors are within your control and some are not. The good news is that good oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist can be an effective way to prevent decay, even in cavity-prone kids.
The following can put children at higher risk of developing cavities:
Insufficient fluoride. Fluoride is vital to the prevention of cavities in kids. That’s why pediatric dentists offer professional fluoride treatments. The American Dental Association (ADA) reports that in addition to strengthening teeth, fluoride treatments can even reverse the early stages of tooth decay. Although the mineral is present in most toothpastes and water supplies, many children need fluoride application from their dentist to protect their growing teeth.
Diet. It is no surprise that most kids prefer a diet full of sugar and sweets. Unfortunately, excess sugar in the mouth provides a breeding ground for cavity-causing bacteria. Limit sodas, carbohydrates and candy to keep cavities away. Surprisingly, too much fruit can also be a threat to your child’s smile health, especially if the fruit is highly acidic.
Dry mouth (xerostomia). Saliva does more than just keep your mouth moist. It is key in preventing cavities because it helps rinse away food debris, sugars, and bacteria in the mouth as well as neutralizes acids on the teeth. While dry mouth is typically found in aging adults, some kids are prone to xerostomia due to their allergy medication or other prescriptions.
Acid Reflux/Heartburn. Again, you may not associate this condition with a child, but children do suffer from disruptive acid reflux after eating spicy or fried foods. Stomach acid that travels up the esophagus and into the mouth can easily damage and weaken tooth enamel and make a child more vulnerable to decay.
Poor brushing and flossing. Younger kids may not have the dexterity to brush and floss correctly. In addition, older kids may try to skip or rush through their oral hygiene sessions. Whether it is habit or technique, poor dental hygiene is a leading cause of cavities!
Genetics. In some cases, the parents are to blame for frequent cavities. Your genes can influence how soft your enamel is, and it may also influence how your teeth are shaped. Teeth with naturally deep grooves are harder to clean and will attract more food particles, bacteria, and sugars.
At Gilreath Family Dentistry, we proudly provide preventative dentistry for the entire family. We offer routine cleanings, fluoride treatments, sealants and fillings to ensure your child’s growing smile stays healthy and strong. Call today to schedule your appointment.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Gilreath IV,