Cavities in Children- Causes, Prevention, and is your child at Risk?

Spring is here and that means the Easter bunny is visiting soon and THAT means Candy!!  At Kona Kids Dentistry we all admit to eating a Cadbury egg or Peep every once in a while!  Unfortunately candy, along with other foods that contain carbohydrates (starches and sugars), such as soda pop, ice cream, milk and cake, even some fruits, and juices may contribute to cavities in children.

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CAUSES:   Tooth decay, also known as caries or cavities, is an oral disease that affects many children.  Natural bacteria live in mouths and form plaque. This plaque acts with deposits left on teeth from sugary and starchy foods and produces acids. These acids damage tooth enamel over time by dissolving enamel on teeth leading to cavities.  If left untreated, cavities can lead to loss of the tooth structure, pain/infection, and even loss of a child’s tooth.  Cavities in children are preventable.

PREVENTION:    Acids formed by plaque can be counteracted by saliva in the mouth, which acts as a buffer and remineralizing agent. The best way to prevent cavities is to have your child brush and floss regularly. Fluoride, a natural substance that helps to remineralize the tooth structure, makes the tooth more resistant to the acids and helps to correct damage produced by the plaque bacteria. Fluoride is added to toothpaste and water sources to help fight cavities. Your child’s dentist may recommend they use a special high concentration fluoride gel, mouth rinse, or dietary fluoride supplement depending on their risk factors.  In addition, professional strength anti-cavity varnish or sealants may be recommended.
IS MY CHILD AT RISK?:   Because we all carry bacteria in our mouths, every child is at risk for cavities.  Cavities are more common among young children than any other chronic illness, including asthma and diabetes.  Children with a diet high in carbohydrates and sugary foods and those who live in communities without fluoridated water are at a higher risk for cavities.  Just so you know, our community of Tigard and most of the outlying areas do NOT have fluoridated water.  Children, more than any other age group of people, are at the highest risk for forming cavities.
THREE SIMPLE STEPS CAN BE DONE TO FIGHT TOOTH DECAY:
#1 Help your child to cut down on sweets and between-meal snacks.
#2 Have your child brush at least two times a day (two minutes each time) and floss daily.  Cavities in children most often begin in hard-to-clean areas between teeth and in the grooves and pits on the biting surfaces of the teeth. Replace your child’s toothbrush every few months. Buy toothpastes and rinses that contain fluoride for your children to use.
#3 Have your child see their dentist every six months for checkups and cleanings. Because cavities in children can be difficult to detect, a thorough dental examination is very important.

We know a certain bunny is visiting next month, so it’s ok to indulge a little! Just keep the three simple steps in mind when enjoying that basket of goodies!  Kona Kids Dentistry is happy to help with step #3 by providing your child’s next dental checkup and cleaning.  Dr. Brandon, Dr. Kat, and our team are always here to answer any questions you may have about prevention of cavities in children.

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Thank you Easter Bunny!!