Cavities — a word everyone hopes NOT to hear at the dentist. A majority of people will have at least one cavity in their lifetime, but why does it seem like children get them more frequently than adults? Around 30 to 40% of children have dental disease, making it the most chronic childhood disease. Even parents who routinely brush their child’s teeth (or make sure their child brushes their own teeth) sometimes have to face the fact that their kid has cavities.
There are a few different reasons why they’re a common dental concern for children. It’s important to know the causes behind tooth decay so you can help your child avoid it!
Candy, cereal, soda, and plenty of other processed foods that kids love to snack on contain sugar. Cutting down on sugar and taming your child’s sweet tooth is one way to help them avoid cavities.
If your child is an infant, take care to avoid “baby bottle tooth decay.” Don’t let your child fall asleep with their bottle, and limit sugary drinks right before naptime or bedtime. You should also be wary of dipping pacifiers in sugar, honey, or syrup.
Inadequate At-Home Dental Care
It isn’t enough to make sure your child is brushing their teeth — you should make sure that they’re doing so properly. Many children don’t use adequate technique, making them more susceptible to cavities. A good rule of thumb that if they can’t tie their shoelaces by themselves then they shouldn’t be brushing by themselves. Generally, children should be able to brush their teeth on their own around the age of 6 or 7. You should still check to make sure they aren’t missing any spots.
Kids should brush at morning and at night. The toothbrush should be at a 45-degree angle, and it should be moved in a gentle, short back-and-forth motion. Make sure they are brushing for a full two minutes and not rushing through the job. Don’t forget they should brush their tongue too!
Cavities are a result of bacterial infection, and this type of infection is contagious. That means that parents and caregivers can actually pass on their cariogenic bacteria to their kids through in a process called vertical transmission. Some examples of this include using the same utensils and cups, trying foods before giving them to your child, and cleaning your child’s pacifier with your mouth.