The last thing a parent wants to hear at the dentist is that his or her kid has a bunch of cavities. Not only are fillings and additional expense, but most parents feel a certain amount of guilt when their children have cavities.
In reality, cavities are common and can pop up in children and adults even if they take very good care of their teeth.
That being said, tooth decay shouldn’t be taken lightly. Dental health is an important part of your child’s overall wellbeing.
If you get the bad news that your child has multiple cavities, you first need to get them fixed as soon as possible. Then you can start adopting healthy habits to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Where Did These Cavities Come From?
Everyone’s mouth is the home of both good and bad bacteria. Food and beverages contain acids that mix with some of the bacteria to form plaque. Plaque is a sticky substance that sticks on and between teeth and causes cavities to form.
We get rid of a lot of the plaque when we brush and floss, but sometimes, some of it stays behind. When it stays there for too long, it will start to eat away at the tooth’s enamel, which is the hard outer layer.
Some parents assume that a child will complain of a toothache if they have a cavity. That isn’t always the case. A cavity starts out as a tiny pit in the enamel. There are no symptoms at first, but this creates an even better hiding place for plaque. If left untreated, the plaque will take hold and the cavity will grow bigger and deeper. Eventually, it can make its way all the way through to the layer beneath. The result can be a painful infection or abscess that might require a root canal procedure or even extraction.
It is important to take care of cavities as soon as they’re discovered. Getting fillings when cavities are small is a lot less painful and expensive than waiting.
Did I Do Something Wrong?
There are some common misconceptions about tooth decay in children. These myths can lead to parents feeling that their kid’s cavities are their fault. Cavities are a widespread problem that can happen to anyone. While you shouldn’t feel guilty, learning about what does and does not cause cavities can help you help your child prevent them in the future.
Does My Kid Have Cavities Because He Eats Too Much Candy?
A common joke is that dentists love Halloween because of all the cavities that will need to be filled after the annual candy feast. Candy has long been thought to “cause” cavities. If your child ends up with a bunch of cavities, you may think his sweet tooth is to blame.
Candy itself does not cause cavities, and neither do other sugary treats like cake, candy, or soda. However, plaque-producing bacteria absolutely love sugar. They feed off sugary foods, which can increase the likelihood of cavities growing.
But there are a lot of other factors at play too, for example, the length of time certain foods stay on the teeth. Certain candy might contribute to cavities more than others. A chocolate bar that melts away with saliva won’t be as bad for teeth as a caramel that can stick around for a while.
Cleaning teeth thoroughly makes a difference too. Just like any other food, as long as candy gets cleaned off the teeth, it’s not usually a problem. Letting your kid eat sweets doesn’t mean you’ve caused their cavities. As long as they don’t overdo it and brush and floss regularly, they don’t need to give up their treats entirely.
Maybe I Don’t Make My Kid Brush Enough
Some children are more prone to getting cavities than others, and it doesn’t always have anything to do with how much you make them brush. Even if you make sure they brush and floss their teeth twice a day, there’s no guarantee they won’t get cavities. That doesn’t mean it’s okay to skip it. Regular oral hygiene is essential to good dental health.
Part of the problem is that young kids aren’t always good at brushing. It’s easy for them to miss spots. And if a child’s teeth have a lot of grooves and ridges, it’s even easier to leave behind plaque. Heredity may play a role too.
The bottom line is that a child with cavities is not an indicator that their parent has done anything wrong.
What Can Parents Do About a Kid’s Cavities?
If your kid’s mouth is full of cavities, there are some things a parent can do. There are actions to take in the short-term to fix the problem. There are also some changes you can make in the future to prevent the problem from repeating.
Get Cavities Filled Right Away
First of all, you need to get your kid’s cavities fixed right away. Some children will be afraid to have the dentist fill their teeth. As a parent, it’s important to be firm about this. The longer you wait, the worse the problem can become.
Learn what’s involved in filling a cavity, so you can reassure your child and they will know what to expect. Consider finding a pediatric dentist who is used to making small children comfortable during procedures.
Step Up Your Hygiene Habits
Did you know that even babies who don’t have teeth yet need oral care? And baby teeth need to be brushed just as much as permanent teeth. The sooner you start your child on dental hygiene, the better.
Set a good example for your kids by brushing at least twice a day and flossing every night. Little ones mimic parents’ behavior, so make sure they see that dental health is important to you. Schedule dental visits twice a year, starting within six months of their first tooth coming in. If they start visiting the dentist at a young age, it will become something routine rather than scary. If you need to find a dentist, we have a search tool you can use: Find a Dentist Near Me.
Eat Healthy Foods
A balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables will help kids stay healthy in general. Foods rich in calcium and Vitamin D can help keep tooth enamel strong.
Keeping candy, soda, and other sugary treats to a minimum can help overall dental health, but remember, they don’t cause cavities directly. It’s okay to let your kids have sweets, provided they brush well afterward.
Know the Benefits of Fluoride
Fluoride can be beneficial to tooth health and preventing cavities. In most parts of the country, there is plenty of fluoride in the water supply. You can supplement it by choosing toothpaste and mouth rinses that contain it.
Most dentists will include fluoride treatments for kids during regular dental checkups. If they don’t mention it, ask if it’s an option.
Dental sealants are a safe and popular option for cavity-prone kids. They are a clear coating that is painted on to the surface of the teeth. The coating fills in some of those hard to clean spots, cutting down on the chance of plaque getting in creating cavities.
Even if your child has a lot of cavities, getting sealants after they’re filled can prevent new ones.
Looking Beyond Cavities
If your dentist finds a bunch of cavities in your kid’s teeth, it’s not the end of the world. With proper dental care, the problems can be fixed. It also doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. You can move on with a better understanding of how cavities got there in the first place and how to keep them from happening again.