Protect your child from experiencing childhood cavities.
The world is a remarkable place, full of beauty and mysteries that we’ll never grow tired of experiencing no matter how old we get. For children, though, so many experiences and sights that have long become standard to us are new and exciting. In most cases, we want our kids to experience everything they can, even if that means messing up sometimes! There are some experiences, though, that we do our best to protect them from because they’re better off without them. Cavities are one of these experiences. After all, they can be uncomfortable, even painful, and can have a lasting impact on your child’s oral health. Despite this, childhood cavities are the most common childhood disease worldwide, three times more prevalent than childhood obesity. But what causes childhood caries, and how can you best protect your child from them? To help you do just that, we’ve provided a guide to the basics of childhood caries and pediatric dental care.
What causes childhood caries?
Just like adults, poor oral hygiene and poor nutrition are two of the main reasons kids develop cavities. When bacteria are allowed to build up and sit on your child’s teeth, they begin to eat through their enamel, leading to decay. What you might not realize, however, is that children are much more vulnerable to cavities than adults because baby teeth have a much thinner layer of protective enamel. This means cavities can form and spread much more quickly, so staying on top of your little one’s oral hygiene is more important than ever!
Similarly, while sugary or carbohydrate-rich foods are more likely to lead to decay, they’re not the only reasons poor nutrition is a major cause of childhood caries. Your child’s teeth need certain vitamins and minerals to grow strong, and not getting enough of those nutrients can leave them vulnerable to decay—and may even impact the development of their adult teeth. Additionally, since dental insurance or treatment is often hard to afford for low-income families, children from these households are significantly more likely to suffer from cavities.
What happens if they’re left untreated?
When cavities are left untreated, they can cause a long list of oral and even overall health issues for your child, including damage to their gums, nerves, and the pulp of their teeth. If a cavity still isn’t treated, it can lead to a potentially dangerous infection or damaged tooth pulp to the extent that the tooth itself can’t be saved. Baby teeth play essential roles in your child’s ability to speak and eat properly as well as helping their adult teeth develop and erupt normally. They do this by holding a spot for adult teeth in your child’s mouth and guiding them into position as they erupt.
When your child loses a baby tooth too soon, their adult teeth run the risk of erupting crooked, which can mean your child will need more extensive orthodontic treatments in the future than they would’ve needed otherwise. Thankfully, none of this is inevitable! Investing the time and effort needed to maintain your child’s oral health is the best way to ensure their baby teeth keep doing their jobs until they’re ready to fall out naturally.
How do childhood caries impact children?
While small cavities aren’t painful, cavities that have reached the interior of a tooth can be incredibly painful—and that can lead to a lot of problems for your child. Children with poor oral health are almost three times more likely than other children to miss school because of dental pain, and these absences can take a toll on their grades. Missing lessons makes it hard to keep up with the class, and even when your child is present, they may be struggling to focus on lessons due to pain or discomfort from their teeth. The good news is once the source of their pain or discomfort is remedied, these children are completely capable of bouncing back and succeeding in school!
What can be done to prevent cavities?
Thankfully, there are plenty of steps you can take to protect your child from cavities. Good oral hygiene is essential for your child’s tooth and gum health, so you should always make time to brush and floss your child’s teeth every day. A healthy, balanced diet is also important, and it can be helped along by the habits you practice along with their diet. Tooth decay is especially common on young children’s front teeth because they’re often sent to bed with bottles or sippy cups full of milk or juice, but this habit allows bacteria-fueling sugars to sit on your child’s teeth all night. Sending your child to bed with water instead is a small change to make, but it can make a huge difference in their oral health.
Regular dental checkups with a good pediatric dentist is also a key ingredient for your child’s oral health. When you keep up with these appointments, it allows your child’s dentist to check on the development of their teeth and work with you to actively help prevent cavities. Ensuring your child is getting enough fluoride, such as by making sure your drinking water is fluoridated or by applying sealants to your child’s teeth, can also make a huge difference. In fact, sealants have been proven to prevent 80% of cavities on back molars.
Instill good dental habits in your child early by scheduling regular dental checkups.
Making sure your child receives pediatric dental care every six months helps them stay healthier and saves you money in the long run by preventing oral health issues that could require costly treatments. Plus, it gives you the benefit of having a good pediatric dentist in your corner who’s ready to give you advice or help whenever you need it.
Your child will gather memories from a lot of new experiences as they grow up, but cavities don’t have to be one of those experiences! Settling into a good at-home oral hygiene routine, encouraging healthy habits, and visiting the dentist regularly are relatively simple keys to ensuring your child’s teeth and gums stay healthy as they grow up. If it’s time to make an appointment for your little one, feel free to call our Prince Frederick pediatric dentistry office to schedule an appointment at any time.