Children and Cavities: What You Need To Know

The health of your child’s baby teeth is crucial to a lifetime of good health. Childhood tooth decay continues to be a significant problem in kids. Even with regular brushing and flossing with your child, their diet can have an impact on their oral health. A diet which is high in sugar and refined carbohydrates can lead to a higher risk of developing cavities. The sugars and bacteria, together, create an acidic environment in the mouth that can break down tooth enamel and lead to tooth decay. Here’s a closer look at common causes of cavities and some helpful tips you can use to prevent cavities in children.

Foods and Drinks That Increase the Risk of Childhood Tooth Decay

Many of the foods and drinks that your kids love can be damaging to their teeth. Some of the foods and drinks that may increase the risk of cavities include:

  • Carbonated drinks: Drinks such as sodas that contain carbonation and phosphorous can weaken tooth enamel, increasing the risk of cavities. Many of these drinks are also often packed with sugar.
  • Fruit juices: Many kids love fruit juices, but juices contain a lot of tooth-damaging sugar. These sugars can become a problem if kids are sipping juice around the clock and constantly exposing the teeth to the sugars.
  • Starchy foods: Starchy foods such as cookies, chips, crackers and bread, are all kid favorites, but they are usually high in refined carbohydrates which get broken down into sugar. These foods are often sticky and can get stuck on the groovy surfaces of the teeth, which can increase the risk of cavities.
  • Sweets treats: All sugary candies increase the risk of cavities in children. Sticky candies stay stuck to the teeth and aren’t easy to brush away. Lollipops are a problem because they stay in the mouth for a long time, keeping the teeth bathed in sugar.
  • Fruit snacks: Fruit snacks that say “made with real fruit juice” may look healthy, but they can be harmful to tooth enamel. Fruit snacks are sticky and cling onto and in between your child’s teeth, turning into a great meal for bacteria that can damage teeth.

Tips for Preventing Cavities in Children

Now that you know some of the causes of cavities in kids, what can you do to prevent them? Here are a few tips that can help:

  • Pay attention to what and how often your kids eat. Make sure your child avoids the foods and drinks that increase his or her risk of cavities. Encourage a diet that is low in sugars and refined carbs; and high in fresh veggies, fresh fruits, protein and complex carbohydrates. Pay attention to how often your child is eating as well, since eating frequently throughout the day can increase acid attacks on teeth and the risk of cavity development. Make sure kids drink water after any snacks or drinks to help flush the teeth from the sugars.
  • Use fluoride. Fluoride is one of the best defenses against tooth decay, and it can reverse and stop early decay in kids. It works to strengthen the tooth enamel and reduces the ability for bacteria to create the acids that cause cavities. Make sure kids are getting fluoride from their water source and by ensuring they are brushing with a good fluoride toothpaste.
  • Schedule regular dental checkups. Regular pediatric dental checkups and cleanings are essential for cavity prevention. During routine visits, the dentist will look for any signs of early tooth decay, remove dental plaque, instruct you and your child on the best ways to thoroughly clean teeth, and apply a fluoride treatment.

Childhood tooth decay is a common problem, but can be prevented. Make sure you keep your child’s oral health on track by scheduling regular exams and cleanings. If it’s time for your child’s next pediatric dental exam, schedule an appointment today.