Young girl looking scared sitting in a dentist chair while a woman holds her hand in the background.

What Causes Cavities in Children?

Posted on May 4, 2021

Young girl looking scared sitting in a dentist chair while a woman holds her hand in the background.

More than four out of 10 children will develop cavities by the time they start kindergarten. According to the CDC, dental cavities remain the most common chronic disease of children ages six to 11. Unfortunately, not only do they cause discomfort, but they can lead to chronic oral health problems in the future.

Here is a look at what causes tooth decay in children and tips for addressing dental issues.

1. Too Much Sugar in Their Diet

One of the leading factors behind cavities in children is sugary foods. Soft drinks, cakes, candy, and raisins contain considerable amounts of carbohydrates and sugars. Tooth decay starts when sugary foods stick to the teeth.

The bacteria in the mouth love to consume foods rich in carbohydrates and sugars. In the process, they release acids and create plaque, a sticky substance that adheres to the teeth. The acids and plaque erode the enamel, causing cavities.

2. Poor Dental Hygiene

Observing dental hygiene regularly is essential for preventing cavities. Your pediatric dentist can offer some tips for maintaining your child’s oral health. Generally, it involves brushing the teeth at least twice a day. However, you need to ensure that your child uses the right toothpaste, toothbrush, and brushing technique. Orthodontists recommend daily flossing after age two.

3. Low Levels of Fluoride

Low levels of fluoride in the water can raise the risk of cavities in children. Fluoride helps replenish the minerals the tooth enamel has lost to the bacteria and acids in the mouth. A kid’s dentist will recommend fluoride toothpaste which is sufficient to prevent mineral deficiencies that encourage tooth decay.

4. Dry Mouth and Low Saliva Production

Sometimes physiological and genetic factors can increase the rate of tooth decay. Low saliva production is one of the conditions that leave the child with a dry mouth. An autoimmune disorder such as Sjögren’s Syndrome may cause the body to attack the salivary glands.

Dry mouth may also be due to other factors such as medication, radiation therapy, or a temporary physiological problem. Saliva helps fight the bacteria that cause cavities. If your child experiences dry mouth, talk to your pediatric dentist for effective and lasting solutions.

5. Oral Health Complications

Some oral health conditions could accelerate the development of cavities. These conditions may include an overbite, underbite, or the misalignment of teeth. Bruxism or teeth grinding can also damage the enamel by friction.

Orthodontic treatment is essential for addressing gum and teeth misalignments and preventing oral health complications. An orthodontist will conduct an assessment of the teeth and the child’s dental health before recommending braces. Dental conditions such as cavities and gum disease must be treated before the procedure.

Tips for Preventing Cavities in Children

Parents need to watch their children’s diet and whether they observe a regular oral hygiene routine. If the child has a condition such as dry mouth, they may use a suitable rinse after brushing their teeth. Pediatric dentists recommend taking your child for checkups regularly.

By taking action to address your child’s oral health problems, you will be saving them from discomfort and pain. Remember to consult your children’s dentist as soon as you detect symptoms of dental cavities.

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