Often we will see your children for their regular teeth cleanings and everything will be just fine, but other times we will see something that requires some attention. We are going to cover the main problems our staff sees and how to prevent them.
Would you believe the number one problem is the same as with adults! I’m sure you guessed it – cavities!
Three Main Causes of Cavities in Children
What you choose to eat and when you choose to eat it is a major factor in our risk to developing cavities. A key concept that most people do not understand is the correlation between frequency of exposure to sugars/carbohydrates and the development of cavities. Every time we eat something the bacteria in our mouth break it down to sugars and create acids that attack our teeth. Habits like frequent snacking and consumption of sticky/sugary foods are examples of dietary habits that can increase risk for cavities.
How we take care of our teeth obviously makes a big difference in how at risk we are for tooth decay. It is recommended to brush at a minimum TWICE daily and to floss ONCE daily. The most important time of the day to brush and floss is at nighttime. While we sleep our mouths dry out and our teeth are not protected by saliva and if a substantial amount of plaque is left on the teeth over night then bacteria have over seven hours to cause problems. It is also recommended after brushing your teeth right before bed to spit out your toothpaste, but don’t rinse with anything. This will leave a film of fluoride toothpaste on their teeth to help protect your children’s teeth while they sleep.
If you can believe it, there are some genetic factors that are out of our control. We do want to point out though these factors are minimal compared to dietary habits and hygiene. Some people have thicker, denser, better quality enamel on their teeth than other people. The better quality the enamel the more protective it will be against tooth decay. The second factor is the bacteria in our mouth (not a fun topic!), but we all have bacteria living in our mouths. The quantities and type of bacteria differ from person to person. Some people may have more of the “bad bacteria” that produce more acids and lead to more tooth decay.
How to Prevent Cavities
So now you’re probably wondering, what is the best thing I can do to protect my children’s teeth from tooth decay and cavities. The absolute best thing you can do is to start establishing good oral hygiene habits early on. Teach your child the importance of taking care of their teeth. In addition, make sure that you as the parent/s take responsibility for cleaning the child’s teeth until a minimum of six years of age, and then even after that point actively supervise the child as they clean their teeth daily.