According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists, by the time they reach kindergarten age, nearly 60% of children in the U.S. will have experienced some tooth decay. If it’s left untreated, decay can lead to infection, difficulty in chewing, and speaking.
What Causes Tooth Decay?
So, what causes that decay in kids and the cavities that result? Tooth decay is caused by bacteria which forms when foods containing a large amount of sugars and starches are left on the teeth. Such foods include milk, soda, raisins, candy, cake, fruit juices, and cereals.
Additionally, many starchy foods, like potato chips, pretzels, white pasta and white bread break down into sugars while they’re inside your child's mouth. When these starchy foods get broken down, they feed cavity-causing bacteria in the same way that sugar-filled foods do, leading to tooth decay in children.
If left untreated, cavities can cause many problems for kids’ oral health.
While all children are potentially at risk for cavities, there are some things that can increase the risk:
- Having higher than typical levels of bacteria in your child's mouth
- Consuming many carbohydrates, sugars, and starches
- Drinking water that contains very little or no fluoride
- Having poor oral hygiene
- Low production of saliva
Spotting Signs of Early Cavities
It’s important to fill cavities when they appear. Cavities that are untreated can possibly spread to other teeth, destroying not just one tooth but creating an environment for other cavities elsewhere in the mouth.
Your child may have a cavity if:
- Your child complains of toothache or pain in mouth or teeth
- Teeth sensitivity
- Pain eating or drinking something that’s sweet, hot or cold
- Visible pits or holes
- Brown, black or white staining on on teeth
- Pain upon biting down
But when you schedule a pediatric dental visit every six months, your dental team can catch any signs of cavity formation at an early stage.
The best way to stop cavities from forming in the first place is to make sure your child brushes and flosses twice a day, limits sugary treats like sodas and hard candies, and visits your dentist for a scheduled pediatric dental checkup every six months.
If cavities should form, white fillings and restoration are the best way to provide children’s tooth filling. The dentist removes the cavity and decay, and fills the hole with white fillings matching the appearance and color of your child’s teeth. The filling hardens in seconds, and the whole process is quick and easy.
If decay has progressed, or the cavity is very large, then instead of a filling, a crown is used to shape a protective structure around the tooth.
If the tooth is extremely damaged, an extraction or baby root canal, removing the infected pulp within a tooth, could be necessary, but is a quick one-visit process for children, unlike adults.
Ready to Learn More?
If you’re ready to learn more about what causes cavities and how to prevent them,
to schedule an appointment for your child, or have any questions, just reach out to us, today!
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