What are Cavities?
Cavities or tooth decay is when acid producing bacteria destroy tooth enamel and a pit, decay or quite simply a hole is formed as a result.
This happens when particles from sugary foods like soda, raisins, candy or even milk are left on the teeth. Bacteria thrive on these foods and produce acid over time these acids can break down tooth enamel and you’re left with a cavity.
Fun fact, “caries” is the medical term for what is commonly known as cavities. So if you see articles or videos where they keep using the terms “caries”, you’ll know it means cavities.
What is Plaque?
Plaque is a layer on the teeth consisting of saliva parts, bacteria and carbohydrates. It forms when the teeth are not cleaned properly. Plaque will eat away at the sugars and create acid as a byproduct of consuming the sugar. The acid will then eat away at your tooth’s strong outer tooth enamel.
This slowly creates holes in your teeth or the cavities. Over time your child, if untreated, can experience toothaches or pain in the mouth. This is a direct result of cavities reaching deeper and deeper into the tooth, until it has reached the inside of the tooth and is touching the child’s nerve endings.
The formation of mature plaque takes up about 24 hours. Plaque that isn’t mature is not organized and therefore are not harmful.
Therefore it is important to remove plaque with brushing and flossing daily.
How to Prevent Cavities?
Here’s how to keep cavities away:
Preventing Cavities for Infants and Toddlers
Dental care does not begin when the first tooth appears. It begins before that. Before baby teeth appear, gently wipe gums and the inside of the baby’s mouth every day. This is most important after feedings and before bed. You can do this with a clean, warm cloth.
This helps prevent any food debris from lingering and giving bacteria something to produce acid with.
Once the first tooth appears, you will then want to brush the baby’s tooth/teeth 2x a day. You can do this with a toothbrush for infants and toddlers. These brushes are made specifically for the infant mouth.
When applying toothbrush, be sure not to add too much. For 2 – 5 year olds the AAPD encourages a pea sized amount. You’ll want to do even less than that for your infant and toddler. The AAPD recommends a “smear” of toothpaste.
Develop Strong Personal Oral Care for Yourself & Your Child
Parents should ensure that they have strong oral habits as well and that their mouth is health and clean. An unhealthy diet and poor teeth can easily be passed onto children, in addition to having cavity germs pass from parents to child.
This means that as parents we have more reason to set an example. There is also a reason for passing of germs.
For a quick review of strong oral care for children, it’s much the same as adults:
- Brush 2x a day
- Floss 1x a day
- Maintain a Healthy Diet
By watching yourself you can also do the same for your child.
Maintain a Healthy, Teeth Friendly Diet
This topic has its own guide and no matter how much we and the industry talk about it, healthy food will always be a huge part of dental health. But much like working out, no one wants to follow.
Anyways, you’ll want to limit sugary foods and drinks. The obvious ones include soda, candy, juices and ice cream. However, there are more and more foods that are deceptively sugary while seemingly healthy.
These can include fruit teas that are full of syrup or even medicine. A lot of medicine in the market it formulated so that it is better tasting to children. This includes those gummy vitamins that have become so popular.
Though holistically, these vitamins and medicine are great for the children, the extra sugar to make it good tasting can badly harm the teeth. So when taking the medicine, make sure the child is brushing after.
Some foods to eat include cheese, raw vegetables, plain yogurt or a piece of fruit. But be sure to do a quick look before purchasing any items. We all know cheese, yogurt and other healthy foods can easily be tipped over the edge by processing.