What Every Parent Needs to Know About Childhood Cavities 

girl brushing her teeth following the instructions of her Pediatric Dentist in Pearl City

As a parent, you’ll want your children to have the best possible health. Unfortunately, a pediatric dentist in Pearl City confirms that tooth decay is a common problem in children, with cavities being one of the most prevalent childhood diseases. It affects nearly 20% of children aged five to 11 and 13% of adolescents aged 12 to 19.  

Preventing childhood cavities and treating them promptly is essential to ensuring good oral health throughout life. For this reason, it’s best to understand the prevention and treatment of childhood cavities, including strategies for cavity prevention in special populations. 

little girl with tooth pain needs to see a Pediatric Dentist in Pearl City

Understanding Childhood Cavities 

What Are Childhood Cavities and What Causes Them? 

Cavities, also known as dental caries, result from tooth decay. They occur when the bacteria in the mouth produce acid that erodes the tooth enamel and causes a hole or cavity to form. When left untreated, cavities can lead to pain, infection, and tooth loss. 

Moreover, children are especially susceptible to cavities because their teeth are still developing and their tooth enamel isn’t as strong as that of adults. In addition, they usually consume sugary foods and drinks that can fuel bacteria growth and tooth decay. 

What Are the Common Risk Factors for Developing Cavities in Children? 

Several factors increase the likelihood of developing childhood cavities. These factors include the following: 

Poor Oral Hygiene  

Oral bacteria can grow and damage teeth without regular brushing and flossing. 

Regular Consumption of Sugary Foods and Drinks 

Sugary and acidic foods and drinks can erode the tooth enamel and cause cavities. 

Dry Mouth 

Saliva helps wash away food particles and neutralize the acid in the mouth. Consequently, a dry mouth increases the risk of cavities. 

Lack of Fluoride 

Since fluoride is a mineral that strengthens the tooth enamel and protects against cavities, a lack of fluoride can increase the risk of cavities. 

Early Childhood Tooth Decay 

Early childhood tooth decay, or baby bottle tooth decay, occurs when a baby’s teeth are frequently exposed to sugary drinks or milk, leading to cavities in baby teeth. 

girl waiting for her Pediatric Dentist in Pearl City in the dental office

What Are the Symptoms of Childhood Cavities? 

You’ll want to be aware of the signs and symptoms of childhood cavities so that you can get them treated promptly. Some of the most common symptoms include the following: 

  • Swollen gums or bleeding gums 

How Can I Help My Child Prevent Childhood Cavities? 

Establishing and maintaining good oral hygiene practices is essential to preventing childhood cavities. You’ll want to help your child start good dental care routines and encourage them to brush and floss regularly. It’s best to supervise your child as they do the following on their own: 

  • Brush teeth at least twice daily with fluoride toothpaste. 
  • Floss between their teeth once a day. 
  • Use mouthwash that contains fluoride. 
  • Spit out toothpaste and mouthwash instead of swallowing them. 
  • Replace toothbrushes every three to four months. 

What Are the Recommended Dental Care Routines for Kids? 

Besides good oral hygiene, regular dental checkups and cleanings are essential in preventing childhood cavities. The American Dental Association recommends that children have their first dental visit by age one. During these visits, the dentist can assess your child’s risk of developing cavities, clean their teeth thoroughly, and provide recommendations for cavity prevention. 

What Is the Role of Diet in Preventing Cavities in Children? 

Dental health experts confirm that diet plays a significant role in preventing childhood cavities. Sugary and acidic foods and drinks can erode the tooth enamel and cause cavities. For this reason, a tooth-friendly diet limits enamel-eroding foods and beverages.  

It’s best to encourage your child to eat fruits and vegetables and choose water over sugary drinks. Instead of handing them junk food or sticky and chewy foods that can get stuck in their teeth, you’ll want to offer cheese, yogurt, and nuts.  

Do Dental Sealants and Fluoride Treatments Prevent Cavity Formation? 

Dental sealants and fluoride treatments are effective tools for preventing childhood cavities. Since dental sealants are thin coatings that the dentist applies to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, they create a barrier that protects the teeth from decay-causing bacteria.  

Alternatively, fluoride treatments involve applying a fluoride gel or varnish to the teeth. Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens the tooth enamel and makes it more resistant to acid erosion.  

What Are the Types of Cavity Treatment Options Available for Children? 

If your child has symptoms of cavities, it’s important to take them to the dentist for an evaluation. The dentist will examine your child’s teeth and may take X-rays to determine the extent of the damage. The treatment for childhood cavities depends on the extent of the damage. Some of the common treatment options include the following: 

  • Fillings 

The dentist may fill the cavity with a tooth-colored filling if it is small. 

  • Crowns 

If the cavity is larger or the tooth is severely damaged, a crown may be necessary to restore the tooth. 

  • Root Canal 

If the cavity has reached the tooth pulp, a root canal may be necessary to restore the tooth. 

  • Extraction 

In severe cases, the dentist may need to extract the tooth. 

What Are Some Aftercare Instructions for Cavity Treatment? 

After your child receives cavity treatment, following the dentist’s instructions for aftercare is important.  

Brush and Floss Regularly 

After cavity treatment, you’ll want to encourage your child to brush their teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once a day. Brushing and flossing help remove plaque and bacteria that can contribute to new cavities. 

Avoid Hard or Sticky Foods 

Your child should avoid hard or sticky foods that damage or dislodge the filling or crown. These foods include hard candy, popcorn, and chewing gum. 

Use Fluoride Toothpaste or Mouthwash 

Fluoride helps strengthen the tooth enamel, making it more resistant to decay. Fluoride toothpaste or mouthwash can help protect your child’s teeth after cavity treatment. 

Watch for Signs of Sensitivity 

It’s common to experience some sensitivity after cavity treatment. However, if it doesn’t improve after a few days or your child experiences severe pain, you’ll want to contact the dentist. They may need to adjust the filling or perform another procedure. 

Attend Follow-Up Appointments 

Follow-up appointments with the dentist are crucial after cavity treatment. The dentist will check the filling or crown and ensure your tooth is healing properly. 

Pediatric Dentist in Pearl City checking patient's teeth

Looking for a Pediatric Dentist in Pearl City? 

Are you looking for a pediatric dentist who can provide the best dental care for your child? Look no further than Kidshine Pediatric Dental Group! Our team of experienced and compassionate pediatric dentists specializes in providing top-notch dental care for children of all ages. Contact us today to make an appointment.