“Cavity” is a feared word among our youngest patients, but , we know that tooth decay is normal with children everywhere. Though cavities are commonplace, a well thought-out diet and at-home care can positively impact oral health. Like other body parts, teeth and gum have nutrient needs, too. A balanced diet is necessary for solid bone structure, healthy gum tissues, strong immune systems and overall children’s health.
Causes of Cavities
Cavity causes can be boiled down to two major factors: dental hygiene and diet regulation. Foods high in sugar content leave remains that collect on the surface of teeth. This invites a sticky film, known as plaque, to cover the enamel. The bacteria in the plaque will continue to feed on sugar particles, resulting in the emission of acid. Acid attacks the surface of teeth, fueling tooth decay. Over time, if dental hygiene is poor, the acid will penetrate the inside of the teeth, eroding away bit by bit. The acid can even continue on to the gums and jawbone, causing teeth to fall out or creating problems for emerging permanent teeth.
Opportunities to Prevent Cavities
- Normal brushing and flossing – “Clean up after yourself” post-mealtime by taking a toothbrush to any remaining food particles. In addition, help your child until he/she is about seven years old to encourage good practice.
- Analyze food and drink choices – Become very aware of what your child is consuming and advise them to do the same. Teach the trade-offs of sugar for natural food and soda for water. Push carrot sticks, reduced fat yogurt and cottage cheese.
- Cut snacks – Try to save sugar and starches for mealtime indulgences. During meals, more saliva and a glass of water should be present to wash away a greater volume of leftovers. Too many snacks makes it impossible to keep up with timely cleaning.
- Sippy cup cutdown – Sippy cups should see their last action when a child is approximately 12 months old. This is because sugary liquid gathers and sits at the roots of the teeth.
- No drinks before bed – Train your child to always take his/her last swig before nighttime teeth cleaning. Do not leave a sippy cup in the crib or bed.
- Avoid sticky foods – These foods will stick to the enamel and be hard to pry off teeth. Our littlest brushers do not have the patience to work off the aftermath.
- Don’t sweeten pacifiers – Find other methods to calm your child besides introducing a sugar additive.
- Drink plenty of water – Not only does it keep your child well-hydrated, but it also continually rinses your child’s mouth.
- Schedule regular appointments – Dentists need to see you to help you! Starting at your child’s first birthday, schedule biannual appointments with Dr. Steve Walton in Columbus. Cleanings, x-rays and sealants can become a part of the plan, curbing cavity possibilities.
Diagnosis of Cavities
Because of varying pain levels and minute size, cavities can be challenging to self-diagnose. They are hard to spot, especially in between teeth. X-rays and dentist evaluation are two surefire methods of diagnosis, but there are a few symptoms you can pay attention to at home.
- Heightened sensitivity to hot, cold or spicy foods
- Nighttime interruptions, including waking and crying
- Pronounced pain or toothaches
When a possible cavity is identified, visit the dentist right away. Do not permit progression by waiting too long.