What Causes Childhood Caries?
Similar to adult caries, childhood cavities are caused by the colonization of bacteria in mouth. Over time, the bacteria produces acid which attack the teeth, damaging the enamel and creating cavities.
While in adults, the enamel has typically hardened and is able to better withstand these attacks, childrens’ teeth and gums are still developing, putting them at risk of extensive infection throughout their smile. If left untreated, the bacteria can travel into the tooth, requiring root canals or the extraction of severely damaged teeth in order to restore health to the dentition.
How Can I Prevent Childhood Caries
Much of childhood preventive dental care begins at home. Some tips for preventing childhood caries include:
Begin Prevention Early: Contrary to common belief, your child doesn’t need to have teeth in order to begin cleaning their smile. Cleaning a baby’s gums with a clean gauze pad or washcloth after feeding can help remove bacteria and begin getting them comfortable with effective oral hygiene habits. Once your child’s first tooth comes in, you can begin using a toothbrush without toothpaste to clean the tooth.
Only use Breastmilk, Formula, or Water in Bottles: Too often, parents or caregivers give children bottles filled with juice or milk. Unfortunately, these contain a significant amount of sugar and may actual increase your child’s likelihood of developing cavities. Additionally, saliva production decreases during sleep. As a result, giving your child a bottle with anything other than water before bed can also increase their chances of accelerated bacteria production.
Choose Fluoride Toothpastes and Floss: Fluoride has been shown to help decrease cavity development and is safe for children once their baby teeth have all emerged. Introducing floss as part of daily oral hygiene can also help keep children’s smiles clean while getting them in the habit of effective oral hygiene.
Visit the Dentist Regularly: As soon as your child’s first tooth as come in, it is recommended that parents bring their child in for a visit their local family dentist. Not only is this first appointment important for smile monitoring purposes, but it also provides parents with the opportunity to ask questions about their child’s oral health and learn efficient techniques for at-home oral care.
At Premier Dental Center, our dentists are dedicated to helping parents keep their child’s smile strong as they transition from baby teeth to an adult dentition. With family dental services available in both Miramar and Pembroke Pines, our team welcome patients all ages to learn more about the importance of oral hygiene. Contact your nearest Premier Dental Center location today to schedule your child’s next appointment.