One of our main goals as a parent is to make sure our children face as few health complications as possible. We want our kids to always be healthy, but it’s easier said than done. Over the years, they’ll catch colds. They might deal with a nasty flu or stomach bug after catching it from a peer at school. You might even learn that your child has a cavity during their dental appointment. While one or two cavities every now and then isn’t uncommon in children, tweens, and teens, it’s still something to take seriously. It’s even more serious, though, if your child is a victim of recurring cavities. You ask yourself, “Why does my kid keep getting cavities?” That’s a great inquiry to have. Finding out the root cause of your child’s frequent cavities is critical to avoid this problem in the future.
How Common are Cavities in Children?
Did you know that approximately 1 in every 4 children has at least one cavity present in their mouth right now? That’s a whopping 25%! To dig deeper into the statistics, about 27% of children ages 2 to 5 have caries in their primary teeth. Meanwhile, about 51% of children ages 6 to 11 currently have cavities. Statistics also show a correlation between childhood cavities and socioeconomic status. It’s unfortunate that cavities are such a common issue among our youth. Even in primary teeth, cavities can set a child up for poor oral health in the future.
While cavities are clearly common in childhood, don’t let these statistics fool you. Children shouldn’t have cavities, and neither should adults. Cavities are a concerning issue that should most definitely be prevented as much as possible. They aren’t a trend or a phase; they are a medical condition that requires evaluation and treatment from a dentist.
So, Why Does Your Kid Keep Getting Cavities?
You’re aware that many children suffer from, or have suffered from, cavities. But, you wonder, “Why does my kid keep getting cavities?” We know how important it is that you get an answer to this question. And you, too, know how important it is to get an answer to this question. Well, the answer isn’t so simple. There are many contributing factors to recurring cavities in children.
Let’s reconsider the statistic a few paragraphs ago about 27% of kids ages 2 to 5 and 51% of children ages 6 to 11 having cavities. This alone is an interesting piece of information. It tells us that, perhaps, one of the biggest reasons for childhood cavities is poor oral hygiene. This might be due to parents not being actively involved in the process, children not having the right resources or knowledge on oral hygiene, or simply a child who is disinterested in taking care of their teeth.
But poor oral hygiene isn’t always the cause of cavities. An unhealthy diet, fluoride deficiency, failure to attend regular dental visits, enamel quality, bacterial transmission from another person (e.g., sharing food, etc.), structural issues in the mouth, the use of certain medications, or even genetics can be contributing factors. Only a professional can determine exactly what the cause of your kid’s recurring cavity issue might be.
Addressing the Recurring Cavity Issue
Once you know the answer to, “Why does my kid keep getting cavities,” it’s time to address the issue. No matter how serious your child’s recurring cavity problem is, it’s something that can be manageable with hard work. This will be hard work both for you as well as for your child. But in the end, it will all be worth it.
One of the first things that you should do, however, is take your child to the dentist. Here, their dentist can evaluate the situation and determine the best course of action. First, they will work towards getting rid of the current cavities embedded within your child’s mouth. Next, they will likely provide insight as to what they believe triggered the cavity or cavities and provide advice for avoiding future cavities.
While following your child’s dentist’s advice is important, it is also up to you, the parent, to initiate positive change that could help your child prevent future cavities. What is your child eating? Are they intaking too much sugar or consuming too many acidic foods and beverages? Does your child often forget to brush their teeth before bed, or do they only brush once a day? When was the last time you took your child to the dentist for a checkup? Is your child taking a medication that could cause the symptom “dry mouth?” (Saliva helps ward off bacteria, which helps prevent cavities to an extent.) Make changes accordingly.
Encouraging Your Child to Take Better Care of Their Teeth
As mentioned, a big reason for cavities in childhood, or at any age for that matter, is lack of oral care. Nobody can expect healthy, cavity-free teeth when they slack on the brushing and flossing. If you worry that your child is feeling bored or uninterested in the act of caring for their teeth, there are fortunately ways to change this. Keep in mind, though, that the sooner you get them interested in caring for their teeth, the better odds you have at keeping them interested for life. And where there is interest, there is effort and a regular routine established.
One way to get kids to take care of their teeth is to introduce them to cartoons, songs, videos, or books about brushing for kids. Media like this can help children see the enjoyable side of oral health. Plus, their favorite cartoon characters can act as good role models. Kids often want to grow up to be just like their favorite characters after all!
Kids also gain interest in oral hygiene when they see their parents engaging in the same thing. Children need to be modeled throughout their early years when it comes to brushing and flossing the teeth. Not to mention, if a parent keeps getting onto their child about, say, flossing their teeth when they don’t themselves, the child might question why Mommy and Daddy don’t do the same. In turn, they may feel less compelled to floss themselves. Practice what you preach.
Another way to encourage kids to brush and floss is to let them converse with their dentist. Sometimes it takes a child talking to a professional to understand how important it truly is to care for their teeth. It turns out, what Mom and Dad said to them wasn’t a lie after all!
Tooth Fairy Traditions Can Inspire Good Oral Health Habits
Introducing your child to tooth fairy traditions is another way to motivate your kid to take good care of their teeth. Make sure your kiddo knows that the Tooth Fairy doesn’t like cavities. She only wants to collect the prettiest, shiniest, whitest of teeth. If she gets anything less, she might not leave a surprise for your child when they place their tooth under their pillow for her. If they want the best reward, your child will have to take extra good care of their baby teeth before they naturally become loose and fall out.
As a last resort, we suggest rewarding your child when they remember to brush or floss. This can best be achieved through stickers. Stickers are one of those things that are very exciting for children. However, over time, they normally outgrow them and no longer need them as a source of reward to continue doing what they were being rewarded for from the start, which makes them a great go-to for rewarding systems. Even just positive words of encouragement and praise could do wonders.
All in all, while we can help somewhat via an article, “Why does my kid keep getting cavities?” is a question to ask your child’s dentist. They are the best people to turn to when dealing with an ordeal like this and can provide the best answer.