Dental caries, commonly referred to as cavities or tooth decay, involve permanent damage to the hard surface of your child’s teeth. It appears as tiny holes. Child cavity prevention is especially important because they often have a harder time coping with restorative treatments. That said, some children do get cavities. At Ashburn Children’s Dentistry, we feel it is important that parents and caregivers are familiar with cavities symptoms and causes so you can seek treatment for your child as soon as possible.
What Causes Them?
They are caused by a bacteria called Streptococcus mutans. Many factors can cause dental caries, but one of the most overlooked causes is the transmission from one person to another. Yes! Cavities are contagious. One person can pass them, or at least the bacteria for them, on to another. It is very important that caregivers do not share utensils with children, clean pacifiers with their mouth, share oral products like toothbrushes, or anything similar.
That said, bacteria or not; cavities do not happen overnight; they form slowly. There are factors that can encourage their growth such as:
1) Tooth Location
Molars and premolars are in the back of your child’s mouth and have lots of grooves and pits that can collect food particles, so they are most likely to develop cavities first.
2) Foods and Drinks
Acidic and sugary drinks, sugary foods, foods that cling to your teeth, and foods that do not wash away easily with saliva are more likely to cause them.
3) Bedtime Feeding
Putting a baby or toddler to bed with milk, formula, or other liquids high in sugar can cause a condition called baby bottle tooth decay. Sippy cups can cause a similar issue.
Cavities are more common in children, including teenagers.
5) Inadequate Brushing
All the causes we mentioned contribute to cavity formation, but more than anything, poor oral hygiene is the real culprit.
Other than prevention, detection is the most important skill a parent or caregiver can have. If you’re concerned your child may have cavities, here are symptoms to look for and/or ask your child if they are experiencing:
- Sudden pain in their teeth (a toothache)
- Teeth that are sensitive to hot, cold, hard, or certain foods
- Sharp pain when eating or drinking certain foods
- Holes or pits in their teeth
- Brown, black or white stains on their teeth
- Pain when biting or chewing
If your child is experiencing any of the above cavities symptoms, it is important to bring your child to our office as soon as possible. At Ashburn Children’s Dentistry in Ashburn, VA, we are passionate about children’s oral health. Contact our office today for an appointment.