Cavities in kids are caused by oral bacteria and other factors. It develops when we consume carbohydrates, like sugars and starches, that are not cleaned from the teeth.
A few foods known to be high in cavity-causing carbs are:
- Candy and cake
- Fruit juices
Oral bacteria act on the presence of these foods, producing acids and leading to the formation of a sticky substance called plaque. Over time, the acidic environment created by the bacteria wears away the tooth enamel, leading to cavities.
Let's take a look at some sometimes surprising things that can cause tooth decay in kids.
Gluten intolerance, commonly known as celiac disease, can cause painful gastrointestinal problems. One relatively unfamiliar complication of the disease occurs at the origin of gluten ingestion: the mouth.
A 2010 study of the effects of celiac disease on child oral health found that almost 90% of studied children displayed marked enamel damage.
Regularly brushing and flossing can help limit the growth of bacteria and plaque. A gluten-free diet can help to assuage gluten insensitivity symptoms.
A large body of evidence has shown that there is no link between breastfeeding and cavities. What can lead to the development of cavities is allowing a baby to keep the bottle in their mouth while they are napping, or not brushing teeth before bedtime after they have begun eating solid food.
Keep in mind that baby formula tends to contain added sugar, so take into account the differences when you consider the effects on child cavities.
This is one that most parents don't even consider. Babies are not born with the two main cavity-causing oral bacteria: streptococcus mutans and streptococcus sobrinus. The only way that they can acquire them from saliva is if you pass your drinks and utensils harboring the bacteria to them.
Xerostomia, commonly known as dry mouth, is a medical condition in which the mouth cannot stay moist because of the lack of saliva. It can happen when a child is stressed or taking certain medications.
Tooth decay causes cavities as a result of plaque attached to the teeth. The acids found in plaque eat away at the tooth enamel, causing the holes we call cavities. Medications like those taken for asthma can lead to dry mouth, which can further lead to the development of cavities because there is insufficient saliva available to help remove lingering food debris.
3 Tips for Preventing Cavities in Your Child
Avoid prolonged exposure to sugary drinks.
This is the number one cause of cavities among young children. The sugars in these drinks promote the growth of oral bacteria that causes tooth decay and cavities.
Provide your child with more water throughout the day to reduce acidity by balancing pH. Do not put them to bed with a bottle in their mouth.
Don't share saliva.
As mentioned earlier, saliva found in the mouths of adults contain two types of bacteria that are known to cause tooth decay and cavities.
Great Oral Hygiene
Regular dental exams and cleanings, combined with great oral hygiene at home, pack a powerful one-two punch in preventing cavities in children.
Educate your child about the importance of brushing at least twice daily and flossing. This helps to remove food debris that feed bacteria causing tooth decay and cavities.
Thanks for your support!
- Dr. Houlik