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Dental health begins in childhood, even before the permanent teeth have appeared. Children will be using these baby teeth for years before the adult teeth are ready to take their place and caring for them now as a habit lets your child avoid cavities.
All teeth are subject to plaque, a bacterium that grows on the teeth is fed by food especially sugary snacks. This plaque sticks to the teeth and creates an acid that breaks down the enamel. This is what causes cavities to form. The plaque can also harden into tartar, making it more difficult to keep teeth clean.
How Do Cavities Affect Your Child’s Teeth?
As a parent, you may wonder, “How do cavities affect your child’s teeth?” and “Does it happen to baby teeth?” According to the American Dental Association, cavities are more common among young children. This may stem from frequent snacking and lack of good brushing habits. Children may eat more often as they grow, exposing their teeth to more of the substances that plaque uses to flourish. They are also just beginning to learn not only how to brush their teeth but how to do these types of routines such as flossing or using mouthwash daily.
Once a cavity has formed, it continues to grow and can even become damaged enough to require extensive filling or even extraction. Pulling baby teeth should be a last resort as they help form the spaces for adult teeth to take. If a tooth falls out or is removed due to an extensive cavity, other teeth might overcrowd the space and require correction in the future.
An orthodontist may best know if the loss of a baby tooth would have a future impact on your child’s dental needs, as well as helping you to care for any existing cavities. This expertise may help you decide on the best course of action regarding any issues your child may have with their teeth, gums or general oral health.
What Will Happen If a Cavity Is Left Untreated?
You won’t need to scour the internet to know what will happen if a cavity is left untreated. Imagine your own visits to the dentist and the pain that comes with have a cavity. Once the enamel is damaged by the acid generated by plaque, the tooth continues to decay and will require more extensive treatment once it is finally seen by a dentist or orthodontist.
Many dentists agree that cavities even in baby teeth need to be treated just as you would for adult teeth. The decay may also spread into other parts of the mouth such as the gums or even down into the adult tooth that is growing beneath. This can lead to other complications and pain that may give children a negative experience with dental care.
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What Are Good Dental Habits?
Oral care habits play a part in how to let your child avoid cavities. As a parent, it is up to you to set the routine.
1. Brush with Fluoride Toothpaste
Regular brushing is what sweeps those bacteria from the teeth, preventing conditions such as gum disease, gingivitis, and cavities. It removes the sugar from food, food particles that continue to break down in the mouth and the acid created by plaque bacteria. It can prevent the build-up of tartar as well.
Show your child how to sweep the brush up and down, back and forth and even on the inside of the teeth as they may not even realize just how much surface area their teeth have.
Brushing after breakfast and before bed are generally good times since children can clear food from the teeth and discourage bacterial growth. They are less likely to be eating or drinking anything further for a time.
2. Use Floss to Get between Teeth
Food is more likely to become caught between teeth and can cause a build-up of plaque if it is not removed regularly. Cavities between teeth may require the removal of more of the tooth to repair and may even be more likely to be susceptible to further cavities, especially around the edges of the fillings. You will have to floss for your child in the beginning until they are better able to control either the string floss or flosser.
3. Avoid Sugary Sweets and Drinks
Oral bacteria such as plaque feed on food and sugar. If your child eats a lot of snacks or drinks sodas, they may be prone to more plaque, which in turn may cause cavities that will have to be treated. Avoiding these things combined with daily oral care can help prevent future issues.
4. Check with Dentist about Using a Fluoride Rinse
Not only can a fluoride rinse provide the element found in healthy teeth but can also further wash out particles of food that brushing and flossing missed. This may also assist in the prevention of cavities between teeth. Rinses for children are not the same as adults and are not designed to kill germs with alcohol like common over the counter mouthwashes.
5. Schedule Regular Check-Ups
See your dentist twice a year as part of your child’s oral health care routine. Seeing a specialist frequently allows for not only prevention and early intervention of problems but contributes to a positive experience for your child. Having x-rays taken of your child’s teeth will reveal if any invisible cavities and allow for early treatment. Visiting the dentist can inform you of all available options for care of your child’s teeth, whether it be a dentist or orthodontist.
Taking charge of your child’s health while they are still young will help your child keep their teeth healthy and foster a positive relationship with their oral healthcare provider for years to come. Please be sure to check out local practices such as an orthodontist for complete care for your child.
13046 Falcon Drive
Baxter, MN 56425
What Guidelines Will Help Children Remain Cavity-Free?
Dr. Michael McDermott earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in both Chemistry and Biology from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. He followed his undergraduate degrees with a doctorate in dental surgery at the University of Minnesota, where he graduated with highest distinction.
Dr. Mike then furthered his dental education by earning a masters and certificate in Orthodontics at the University of St. Louis in Missouri.