It is always so exciting when a baby gets his or her first tooth. Getting in that first set of teeth opens up a world of so many new foods and flavors to enjoy. But with the new enjoyment of solid foods comes a new responsibility of starting good oral health habits. When your child goes to their first dental appointment, you may be surprised that your child has developed a cavity. But are children at a higher risk for developing cavities than adults? The answer is that though children often have cavities, their baby teeth are not made of a different material that makes them weaker. The cause for cavities in children has more to do with the age of the child and how likely they are to properly clean and care for their new pearly whites.
What causes cavities?
Cavities are small depressions in the tooth caused by damaging bacteria that slowly decays the enamel, leading to a hole that can begin to cause pain if not addressed by a dentist. The bacteria that causes cavities are fed from food debris, especially sugary rich foods, that are never cleaned off. Improperly cleaned teeth develop plaque, a sticky bacteria-filled substance, that coats the teeth. When food and drink stick to the plaque, the bacteria use the sugars to form an acid that is damaging to teeth and leads to tooth decay.
Teaching children proper oral hygiene
Children learn from watching their parents. If you want to teach your children good oral hygiene habits, be sure that you are diligently brushing your teeth twice a day and also flossing your teeth daily to remove any cavity causing food stuck between teeth. Making dental visits a normal part of life will also help establish a good habit of having a dentist routinely look at your child’s teeth.
Talk to your child about the importance of letting the bristles of their toothbrush go over the same tooth multiple times before moving on to a new section. Staying by your child while they are brushing their teeth can be helpful while you give commands on which section of their mouth to clean. For example, set a 30 second timer and tell your child to brush their back, left teeth until the timer goes off. Then move on to the bottom right, top right, and so on, resetting the timer for each section.
Showing your child how to wash out their mouths and spit out the toothpaste is also a valuable, and sometimes surprisingly difficult to teach, skill.
Always be sure to regularly look in your child’s mouth to inspect their teeth, especially once they start brushing their teeth with less supervision. You can help them to identify spots that they may routinely miss as brushing becomes more habitual.
Aiding your child in developing good oral hygiene habits will help them to avoid painful and worrisome cavities as well as other issues with their teeth. Finding a dentist that can see the whole family can make dental appointments a family event and less intimidating. If you are in Coralville, IA, and want to establish good habits and keep your child from getting cavities, give Coral West Dental a call today!