It is completely normal for toddlers and children to develop cavities, and there are a number of reasons why children develop them. Some children are naturally prone to cavities due to enamel defects while others may develop cavities due to poor dietary habits or a lacking oral hygiene routine.
Today, we’ll be exploring some of the more common causes of tooth decay and cavities in children and provide you with some tips to mitigate them.
Last month, we discussed that bacteria is one of the big culprits behind tooth decay and cavities. In order to minimize the risk of cavity-causing bacteria, you should reduce be mindful of sharing eating utensils with your children and clean toys that other children may have had in their mouths before allowing your child to play with them. This is to prevent your child from ingesting saliva from others.
Remember that pesky cavity-causing bacteria we just mentioned? Well, they love sugar! So it is not surprising that the consumption of sugary drinks and snacks increases the risk of developing cavities. But when it comes to the connections between food and cavities, there is a lot that parents don’t know.
Studies have shown that a child’s risk of developing cavities is affected less by the total amount of sugars and fermentable carbohydrates that a child consumes than by the frequency with which the child consumes such foods and the amount of time those foods spend in the child’s mouth.
For this reason, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends against giving children sugary beverages like juice in bottles and sippy cups. When a child is allowed to carry juice or other sugary drinks around in a bottle or sippy cup, it can be tempting for the child to sip on the liquid slowly throughout the day, leading to repeated damaging acid attacks and increasing the risk of cavities.
No More Bottles At Bedtime
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends against putting babies and toddlers to bed with bottles, especially bottles containing sugary liquids like juice. When a child is put to bed with a bottle of juice, the juice can pool up around the child’s upper front teeth, leading to the rapid destruction of those teeth.
Dental Enamel Defects
Dental enamel is the hard, protective outer layer of a tooth. Certain types of enamel defects, such as enamel hypoplasia, may increase a child’s risk of developing tooth decay. These defects can be hereditary, or they might be a result of environmental factors like low birth weight, viral and bacterial infections, or dental trauma.
Breathing With Their Mouth Open
Saliva is our teeth’s natural protector as it helps wash away food particles and repair damage that cavity-causing bacteria do to our teeth. Children who breathe through their mouths instead of their noses typically have reduced salivary flow and dry mouths, which puts them at an increased risk of developing cavities. Speak to your pediatrician or pediatric dentist about your child’s sleeping habits, and what solutions may be available to correct mouth breathing.
Oral Hygiene Habits
As you might expect, poor oral hygiene habits in children increase the risk of developing cavities. What you might not have realized is that it is extremely important to begin brushing your baby’s teeth twice a day as soon as your baby’s very first tooth emerges, and to begin flossing as soon as your child has two teeth that touch.
Not sure how to brush your baby’s teeth? Unsure if you’re using the proper flossing technique? Be sure to check out our tips and tricks to make your child’s brushing routine smoother and more enjoyable for everyone.
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