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Why Are Cavities So Common in Children?

HomeCavity PreventionWhy Are Cavities So Common in Children?

young boy getting a dental exam to insure cavities are treated

Cavities are most often associated with children, and with good reason. Kids are more likely to develop cavities than any other age group. Here, we’ll discuss cavities in more detail and explain why cavities are so common in children.

What Are Cavities?

Also known as tooth decay, cavities are tiny holes and openings in your teeth that develop because of weak enamel and poor oral health. While you might think that you’ll be able to see a cavity in your mouth, you often can’t. In fact, you usually don’t feel the cavity until it has progressed to a more severe degree. This is why it’s vital for your oral health to get regular dental checkups and cleanings. When you do experience symptoms you’ll feel pain when eating or drinking things that are sweet, hot or cold. You’ll also likely experience toothache, tooth sensitivity, pain when you bite down, and black, white, or brown stains on your teeth. If it’s severe enough you may be able to see pits or holes in the tooth.

What Causes Cavities to Develop?

The main causes for tooth decay and cavities is poor oral health and an unhealthy diet. When your child eats a diet that is high in sugars and carbohydrates, food particles are often left over in their mouth and unless they are removed by regular brushing and flossing, bacteria starts to feed off the sugars and turns them into acids. These acids attack and weaken tooth enamel, which is your teeth’s first line of defense against infection and decay, by stripping the minerals from the enamel. Once the enamel is weak enough, the acid moves to the deeper layers of your child’s teeth like the dentin and eventually the pulp. If the cavities develop to this level, it could mean more serious oral health issues, even tooth loss.

Why Are Cavities So Common in Children?

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research says that 42 percent of children between two and eleven years old have had cavities in baby teeth and 21 percent of children six to eleven years old have had cavities in their permanent adult teeth. So why are cavities so common in children? Tooth decay begins with a group of germs called mutans streptococcus, which are the bacteria that feed on sugar and create enamel weakening acids. These germs are often passed to children from their parents. This is why the children of people who have cavities tend to have cavities, as well. The other issues that cause cavities in kids are a poor diet that’s high in sugar, lack of regular tooth brushing, and lack of visits to the dentist’s office. All of these things are more complicated for children and therefore they are often more susceptible to cavities.

How Can You Prevent Cavities?

One of the best ways to prevent tooth decay is by teaching your child good oral health care that they perform every single day. Teach your child how to brush their teeth with the proper technique. They should brush for two minutes each time they brush, at least twice a day. Additionally, show them how to floss so they get between every tooth, even the hard to reach ones in the back. Also make sure your child is getting enough fluoride, which remineralizes and strengthens tooth enamel. Limiting your child’s intake of sugars is also important so switch out those chips for celery sticks.

Schedule an Appointment Today

Bringing your child in for regular checkups and cleanings is also vital to preventing cavities. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for your child!

Written by

John Cutting, DMD is an Annapolis dentist experienced in all aspects of dentistry. He provides complete care from general dentistry to cosmetic and restorative dentistry in his conveniently located and comfortable office, Edgewater Dental Arts.