As adults, we understand what cavities are — and we know how much we don’t want them. For kids, this isn’t so easy. It is hard for them to understand what a cavity is and why they will want to take steps to prevent them.
When they get old enough, you can explain this a bit easier and let your child take control of their own oral health in order to avoid cavities. But what do you do in the meantime? How do you explain cavities to a child?
What Are Cavities?
Before we dive into the kiddie version, let’s make sure we are all on the same page about what a cavity truly is — in grown-up terms.
Cavities are caused by bacteria that have latched onto the tooth and formed a thick layer of acidic plaque. It eats away at the tooth enamel leaving a hole within its surface. This hole is the actual cavity. This is most commonly the result of poor oral hygiene and eating too many sugary treats.
Teeth that have cavities can become sensitive and may ache. Bad breath may also be a good indicator.
To treat cavities, dentists will remove any tooth decay and infection and seal the tooth with a filling.
The Invasion of the ‘Sugar Bugs’
Talking to your kids about sugar bugs or mouth monsters is a lot more kid-friendly than plaque or bacteria.
An easy way to discuss cavities with kids is to say that when they eat too much candy or sugar, the sugar bugs get released. The more they eat, the more sugar bugs can be found in their mouths.
When the teeth aren’t brushed well or often, the sugar bugs stick around. They spend their time trying to eat their way into the white part of the tooth. When they make it inside, it becomes a cavity.
Creating a Routine to Reduce Cavities
Once your child has an idea of what creates cavities, they will hopefully be excited to keep the sugar bugs out! To make this even more enticing, you are going to want to help them to create a routine that is both fun and effective. For instance, let your child choose their own toothbrush and toothpaste.
Teach your child that brushing their teeth in the morning and at night every day is a great way to get rid of the sugar bugs. And, because they hide between teeth, flossing is super important, too. Finally, finish off the routine by spitting any remaining sugar bugs in the sink with mouthwash.
Doing this together every day – and visiting the dentist every six months for a professional cleaning – can make it hard for cavities to form.
Think Your Child Has a Cavity?
If you think your child may have a cavity, it is imperative that you make an appointment with the dentist as soon as possible. At Suffolk Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, we have a team of specialists that will examine and gently treat your child’s cavity. We ensure that each of our young patients has a great experience every time they walk through our doors.