Why kids get cavities. How to prevent your child from getting one.
It was a normal day for me at work. The only thing different about this day was my kids and my husband were coming in for their routine check up and cleaning.
My assistant took my four year old to take his x-rays and do his cleaning. I was in the other room working on getting my husband’s teeth clean.
I was a little worried because I knew the last he came in he hated the toothpaste and was not cooperative to finish his cleaning.
When my assistant brought my son in, he was so happy because he was a big boy and got his “pictures taken” of his teeth.
I pulled up his xrays. I saw it and my heart sank.
My son has a cavity!
I double checked and triple check the x-rays and it was there. Clear as day.
Yep. He has a cavity.
I felt terrible. I felt the mommy guilt. Like I had failed.
I finally understood what it felt like when parents brought their kids in and I had to break the news that Billy has a cavity.
The crazy thing is I knew that it could happen because he loves juice and milk before bed, but I thought magically he would be ok.
This does not have to be your story. There are ways to help prevent your child (and yourself) from getting cavities.
How cavities form
To understand how to prevent cavities, you must have a basic understanding of how cavities form.
I am going to give you the simple version without all of the science.
Disclaimer: I probably made this overly simple, but this is the basics.
There are bacteria in your mouth. Just like you, they need food to eat in order to survive and thrive. The bacteria feed off of the foods you eat. When they eat some of the brownies or Ritz crackers you eat, they produce an acid as a by product. The acid is what breaks your teeth and eventually causes a cavity.
From my experiencing and talking with parents, these are the top 3 reasons why cavities form: poor oral hygiene, increased frequency of carbs and refined sugars and deep pits and grooves on teeth.
Let’s break these down and see what can be done differently to prevent cavities.
Poor oral hygiene
When you don’t do a good job of brushing or don’t brush your teeth at all, you leave your teeth vulnerable. Just imagine pouring acid on your new sofa. If you don’t rinse it off quickly, the acid will destroy your sofa.
That is why it is so important to brush twice a day. Brushing removes food and plaque that contribute to the formation of those terrible cavities.
If anything make sure that your child thoroughly brushes before going to sleep.
Once they brush, no more snacks or beverages. Only water.
This is what got me in trouble with my son. I would brush his teeth. Then right before he goes to sleep, he would give me the Puss in Boots eyes and ask for milk. Because of those eyes and I really don’t feel like dealing with tantrums, I would give him milk and NOT brush his teeth again.
Big mistake. Don’t make the same mistake I did.
Increase frequency of carbs and refined sugars
I know you want to do what is best for your little angel and keep her happy. You have to limit the sugary snacks. I know those fruit snacks seem like a healthy choice because the package says it is packed with 100% vitamin C. These kids need their vitamin C, especially during flu season.
Be careful with the fruit snacks because they are sticky and will hang on to your little one’s teeth. Making their teeth more vulnerable.
If your child is eating lots of snacks throughout the day, you may want to check and make sure that they are not high in carbs and sugars. The increase in the amount of times your child eats these snacks, leaves your child’s teeth more and more exposed to getting a cavity.
Try snacks high in protein and fiber. Like cheese, celery and nuts.
Deep pits and grooves
Sometimes it is not because your child isn’t brushing their teeth or eating candy all day. Sometimes it is just purely the anatomy on their teeth.
The back teeth in particular, can have really deep grooves and pits. This can be very difficult to keep clean because the toothbrush can’t reach these areas.
This is where sealants can be beneficial. Sealants are a protective coat that goes into these grooves. Just like you paint your nails with nail polish. The grooves on the back teeth are painted with the sealant material that harden with a special light. This protects those deep grooves from getting food stuck and slowly growing into a cavity.
Mom, you are awesome and you are doing a good job. Even if you child has had a cavity in the past I know you have the tools to help prevent it from happening again.
Trust me, I am not letting those Puss in Boots eyes fool me again.