You already know why it’s important for you to see a dentist as an adult, but it’s equally important for your child to see their pediatric dentist to prevent children cavity issues that can become worse if they go untreated.
Though cavities in children are often dismissed as a lesser issue than cavities in adults, the truth is, children need to be taught at a young age to care for their oral health. If they don’t develop the right oral hygiene habits when they are young, they’re more likely to face serious oral health problems in adulthood.
Here’s what you need to know about how cavities develop among children, what you can do to help prevent them, and how your pediatric dentist can help.
What Is a Cavity in Children?
Cavities are the result of tooth decay, which is the breakdown of the tooth’s natural enamel. Enamel is the hard outer surface of each tooth. When tooth decay is present, cavities are often the result. Cavities show up as small (or sometimes not so small if gone untreated) holes in the teeth.
The statistics are high for cavity occurrence among kids. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have stats that claim that up to 42% of kids age 2 to 11 have had a cavity in their baby teeth. This is why knowledge about cause and prevention is so important.
What Causes Children Cavity Problems?
Cavities among children are caused by a few different things. Sometimes cavities occur when foods that are high in carbohydrates and sugars are left on the surface of the teeth for too long. Common culprits include soda, candy, fruit juice, cereal, bread, and milk.
Bacteria that are naturally present in the mouth turn these types of foods into acids. The combination of acid, saliva, food, and bacteria come together to form plaque, which sticks to the teeth. With proper oral hygiene or adequate dental care, the acidic plaque will eat away at the enamel, and cavities will form.
Are All Children at Risk of Developing Cavities?
Bacteria is present in the mouths of all children, which means all children are susceptible to the development of cavities. Of course, there are some factors that increase the risk of children cavity formations developing. These include:
- A high level of the type of bacteria that causes cavities
- A diet that consists of lots of starches and sugar
- Poor oral hygiene
- Low saliva production
- Water supply with limited to no fluoride present
If your child is dealing with any of these factors, their chances of developing a cavity are higher than otherwise.
Symptoms of a Cavity in a Child
Tooth decay symptoms are different in each child, but there are some common signs that a cavity is developing. If you notice these signs, it’s time to take a trip to the dentist:
- An early sign of cavity development is a light brown color forming on the surface of the tooth.
- White spots might start to form on the teeth in affected areas. These spots are indicative of the break down of the tooth’s enamel. They can lead to sensitivity to the tooth.
- The affected area becomes deeper and turns darker in color.
Children cavity symptoms also bring pain in the area near the tooth and sensitivity to certain kinds of foods, such as sweets or cold and hot drinks.
Cavities don’t always have the same symptoms. Often kids don’t realize they even have a cavity until their dentist discovers it.
How Is a Cavity Diagnosed?
When you visit your child’s dentist, they will be able to diagnose tooth decay by looking at a complete dental and medical history of your child, examing their teeth thoroughly and taking a set of dental X-rays.
The examination and X-rays will make a cavity formation or formations evident to your child’s dentist.
How Will My Child’s Cavity Be Treated?
The treatment your child receives for their cavity will depend upon their age, symptoms, and overall health. Treatment also depends on the severity of their cavity.
In most situations, treatment requires having the decayed portion of your child’s tooth removed and replaced with a filling. For children, the majority of fillings are easily completed during one visit.
How Can I Prevent Cavities in My Child?
There’s no guarantee against cavities, but there are things you can do as a parent or caregiver to drastically reduce the chances of your child developing a cavity.
Start with the basics of simple brushing. As soon as your child has teeth to brush, brush them twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Once your child is old enough to brush their teeth themselves, you can allow them to do so, but observe them and make sure they do a thorough job.
Begin flossing your child’s teeth every day after the age of 2 to prevent plaque and bacteria buildup.
Make sure you’re feeding your child a well-balanced diet and limit the amount of sticky and sugary foods.
Avoid putting your child down at nap or bedtime with anything other than water. Milk, formula, and juice all contain sugars that will sit on your child’s teeth throughout the night, and this can lead to tooth decay.
Make and keep regular dental cleaning appointments for your child at least two times a year.
Why Is Seeing a Pediatric Dentist so Important?
So why is seeing a pediatric dentist so important for your child? Well, seeing a pediatric dentist every 6 months can ensure that your child treats any cavity development early on or has cavities taken care of before they become much worse.
An experienced pediatric dentist is trained in treating children’s mouths specifically. They can help guide your child in proper oral hygiene, offer preventative treatments, and keep tabs on how your child’s teeth and jaws are developing.
Schedule an Appointment for Your Child
Children cavity issues can be addressed efficiently with the help of an experienced and caring pediatric dentist, and we’re the team to help! Learn more about our team and contact us to set up an appointment for your child today.