Many children are prone to tooth decay or cavities caused by plaque. Plaque is a substance that forms when saliva, food, and bacteria create a film that sticks to the teeth. The bacteria in plaque create acids that eat away at the enamel and cause cavities.
Foods That Can Cause Cavities
Foods with sugar and starch can cause cavities if your child does not have a robust home oral care routine. Candy, dried fruit, and soda are common culprits, but many parents are unaware that grains, bread, and milk products are nearly as likely to cause cavities as sweeter foods.
If your child eats a heavily starchy or sugary diet, try to make it more balanced by adding more fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and fiber. No matter what your child eats, ensure that you keep their teeth as clean as possible.
Which Children Are At a Higher Risk of Tooth Decay?
Children may be at a higher risk of tooth decay if they have the following:
- Higher levels of cavity-causing bacteria
- Lower saliva flow than normal
- Inadequate oral hygiene
- Little to no fluoride in their home water supply
- Sugary, starchy diet
How To Prevent Cavities
While untreated childhood cavities can lead to severe oral health problems in later life, you can protect your child by following these four key tips:
Tip #1: Avoid Putting Your Baby to Bed With a Bottle
Baby bottle tooth decay can cause many cavities in toddlers and young children. Toddlers should not go to bed with a bottle of milk or juice, and if you do give them a bottle, give them only water.
Tip #2: Brush and Floss Consistently
Babies and children should have their teeth brushed with a soft brush and children's fluoride toothpaste twice a day. When the teeth begin to meet in the back, add daily flossing to your routine.
Tip #3: Use Fluoride Correctly
Recently, pediatric dentists have begun to recommend that their patients use fluoride toothpaste starting at the age of six months or whenever the first tooth appears. Use a dab of toothpaste the size of a single grain of rice until the child is about three when you can start giving them a pea-sized amount.
Tip #4: Visit the Dentist Every Six Months
Your child should start seeing the dentist before their first birthday, but if you have an older child, it's never too late to start a positive routine. The dentist is your partner in creating a healthy smile using cleanings, exams, and in-office fluoride treatments.
Contact Suffolk Pediatric Dentistry
When children and their parents follow an excellent home oral care routine and make all recommended dental visits, they can reduce their risk of cavities and protect their oral health in the long term.
If you are concerned that your child is at risk for developing cavities, we can help. Contact us at one of our New York offices for an appointment today.