According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tooth decay remains the most common chronic disease among children ages six to nine. Tooth decay is the breakdown or destruction of tooth enamel (the hard, outermost layer of the tooth). Tooth decay can lead to cavities, which are permanently damaged areas in the teeth.
As a parent, it can sometimes be tough to discern how much dental care your child needs or to figure out the most effective ways to prevent cavities. Do not worry; our dentists at The Landing Dental Spa are here to help! Keep reading to learn more about cavities in kids and some tips on how to help prevent them.
What Causes Cavities?
Cavities occur when a build-up of dental plaque eats away at tooth enamel and creates a small hole. Plaque is a thin, sticky film of bacteria that forms on the surface of your teeth. According to John Hopkins Medicine, foods popular with children like milk, soda, raisins, candy, cake, fruit juices, cereals and bread contribute to plaque.
Regular brushing and flossing can help prevent plaque build-up in your child’s teeth; therefore, it is imperative to start these practices early. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wiping down an infant’s gums nightly with a soft, damp cloth and switching to a toothbrush when their teeth come in (usually around six months of age). Flossing can begin once teeth start touching (typically around the ages of two or three).
As your child gets older, make sure to brush their teeth twice a day with a toothpaste containing fluoride. The CDC also recommends that you give your child drinking water that contains fluoride, like tap water, and talk to your child’s dentist about applying sealants to add a thin layer of protection on the top of their teeth.
What are the Symptoms of Cavities?
The symptoms of cavities often vary from child to child. Some children experience pain, while other children may not even know that they have a cavity until their dentist finds it. Signs and symptoms of a possible cavity include:
- Dark spots on the tooth
- White spots on the tooth
- Crying or fussiness
- Sensitivity to sweets or cold food and drinks
- Mouth swelling
- Avoiding food
If you think your child may have a cavity, do not ignore it! Make an appointment with a dentist as soon as possible to have their tooth checked for signs of decay and cavities.
How Do I Prevent Cavities?
The best way to help prevent cavities in children is by starting good oral hygiene habits early. Good oral hygiene habits include regular brushing and flossing, visiting the dentist regularly and encouraging your kids to eat healthier foods for snacks (like carrots, yogurt or cheese sticks), rather than sugary sweets (like candy, cookies or cake).
We recommend that you and your child see your dentist twice a year for the best overall oral health. At The Landing Dental Spa, we conduct dental exams and cleanings to help patients minimize the risk of cavities, gum disease, enamel wear, gingivitis and periodontitis. We believe it is especially important for children to take part in preventive dentistry. Preventive oral care starts as a child, and we believe that healthy oral habits that start early will continue throughout an individual’s life.
During a pediatric appointment, we will provide a comprehensive report, including:
- Oral exams
- Assessments for straightening teeth or correcting bites
- Cavity repairs
- Repairing dental injuries (broken teeth)
If you would like to learn more about practicing good oral care habits with your child, check out our blog here.
Family Dentistry | The Landing Dental Spa
Remember, cavities affect children too, and they should be taken seriously! However, if you start the right oral hygiene habits early, it can lessen the likelihood that your child will experience cavities and other serious dental problems down the road.
At The Landing Dental Spa, we want to make sure that you and your family have fun keeping your teeth clean and healthy. We offer many amenities to make your time with us as comfortable and enjoyable as possible! If you have any questions or need to schedule a dental appointment for you or your child, please give us a call at 304-594-2200 or contact us online. We look forward to seeing you soon!