As a parent, you want to do everything you can to keep your child healthy. This includes taking care of their teeth and preventing cavities. But what exactly are cavities, and how can you prevent them in your child? In this article, we’ll discuss the causes, treatment, and prevention of cavities in kids.
What Are Cavities?
Cavities, also known as dental caries, are permanently damaged areas in the hard surface of the teeth that develop into tiny openings or holes. They are caused by a combination of factors, including bacteria in the mouth, frequent snacking, and poor oral hygiene.
Cavities can occur in both adults and children, but they are more common in children. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cavities are one of the most common chronic diseases in children aged 6 to 19.
Causes of Cavities in Kids
Cavities are caused by a combination of factors, including:
- Bacteria in the mouth: The mouth is full of bacteria, some of which are harmful and can cause cavities. These bacteria feed on the sugars and starches in the food we eat, producing acids that can damage the teeth.
- Frequent snacking: When your child eats or drinks anything sugary or starchy, the bacteria in their mouth produce acids that can attack the teeth for up to 20 minutes after they finish eating. Frequent snacking means that the teeth are constantly under attack, increasing the risk of cavities.
- Poor oral hygiene: If your child doesn’t brush and floss regularly, plaque can build up on their teeth. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that can produce acids that attack the teeth and cause cavities.
Signs and Symptoms of Cavities in Kids
Cavities in kids can be difficult to detect, especially in the early stages. However, there are some signs and symptoms that you can look out for, including:
- Toothache: If your child complains of a toothache, it could be a sign of a cavity. The pain may be mild at first, but it can become more severe as the cavity gets bigger.
- Sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet foods and drinks: If your child experiences pain or discomfort when eating or drinking hot, cold, or sweet foods, it could be a sign of a cavity.
- Visible holes or pits in the teeth: As cavities progress, they can cause visible holes or pits in the teeth. These are usually dark or discolored and may be accompanied by tooth sensitivity.
- Bad breath: Bacteria in the mouth can produce a foul odor, which can cause bad breath. If your child has persistent bad breath, it could be a sign of cavities.
How Are Cavities Treated?
If your child has a cavity, the treatment will depend on the severity of the cavity. In the early stages, cavities can be treated with a dental filling. This involves removing the decayed part of the tooth and filling the hole with a material such as composite resin or amalgam.
If the cavity is more severe and has affected the pulp of the tooth, your child may need a root canal. This involves removing the infected pulp and filling the root canal with a material to prevent further infection.
In some cases, a dental crown may be necessary to treat a cavity. A dental crown is a cap that is placed over the tooth to protect it and restore its shape and function. Dental crowns are commonly used to treat cavities in children, as they are more prone to tooth decay.
Can Dental Crowns Get Cavities?
by Candid (https://unsplash.com/@candid)
Dental crowns are made from materials such as porcelain, metal, or a combination of both. These materials are not susceptible to cavities, but the tooth underneath the crown can still get cavities.
It’s important to maintain good oral hygiene and visit the dentist regularly to prevent cavities from forming under the dental crown. Your child’s dentist will also check for any signs of decay during routine dental checkups and cleanings.
How to Read Dental X-Rays for Cavities
Dental x-rays are an important tool for detecting cavities in kids. They can show cavities that are not visible to the naked eye, allowing dentists to catch them early and prevent further damage.
When reading dental x-rays for cavities, dentists look for dark spots or shadows on the teeth. These dark spots indicate areas of decay that may require treatment. Dentists may also use a special dye to help detect cavities on x-rays.
How to Prevent Cavities in Kids
Preventing cavities in kids is all about maintaining good oral hygiene and making healthy choices. Here are some tips to help prevent cavities in your child:
Brush and Floss Regularly
Brushing and flossing are essential for removing plaque and preventing cavities. Make sure your child brushes their teeth twice a day for two minutes each time and flosses at least once a day.
Limit Sugary and Starchy Foods
Foods and drinks that are high in sugar and starch can increase the risk of cavities. Limit your child’s intake of these foods and encourage them to choose healthier options such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Use Fluoride Toothpaste
Fluoride is a mineral that helps strengthen tooth enamel and prevent cavities. Make sure your child uses a fluoride toothpaste when brushing their teeth.
Visit the Dentist Regularly
Regular dental checkups and cleanings are essential for preventing cavities. Your child’s dentist can detect cavities early and provide treatment before they become more severe.
Consider Dental Sealants
Dental sealants are a thin, protective coating that is applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. They can help prevent cavities by sealing off the grooves and pits where food and bacteria can get trapped.
Cavities in kids are a common problem, but they can be prevented with good oral hygiene and healthy choices. Make sure your child brushes and flosses regularly, limits their intake of sugary and starchy foods, and visits the dentist regularly. By following these tips, you can help your child maintain a healthy smile and prevent cavities.