Cavities: An Epidemic
Dental caries (aka cavities) is the number one chronic disease of childhood. It is five times as common as asthma, but can be preventable. Following some simple guidelines can mean the difference between a mouth full of caps and fillings or a smile of natural pearly whites.
The Process of Cavities
Cavities are a transmissible, infectious disease process caused by bad bacteria (Streptococcus Mutans to be exact) in the mouth . We are not born with this bacteria, but acquire it throughout life. We get this bacteria from others by sharing utensils or straws or even kissing on the mouth!
The bad bacteria in our mouths use the food we eat as fuel and make acidic byproducts that weaken the enamel layer on our teeth. Over time, our enamel weakens to the point where a hole is formed and the bacteria is given access to our much weaker dentin layer.
Once the decay is in the dentin layer, we must treat the tooth. The treatment required depends on the size and location of the cavity but can range from a simple small filling to nerve treatment and a crown or even an extraction.
The best way to treat a cavity is to never get one! Starting your kids on the right path is crucial to a lifetime of not just oral health, but overall health in general!
Here are some quick tips to help prevent cavities:
- Brush regularly- this means twice a day: once when you wake up and once before you go to bed. This could mean using either a manual or electric toothbrush.
- Brush for long enough– a whole two minutes is recommended
- Have a good diet. The bacteria in your mouth loves sugary snacks, which could include organic or even gummy vitamins! Read our snack guide to help you make good choices
- Keep up dental appointments- cleanings, fluoride, x-rays and check ups can help stop small cavities before they get big enough to treat.
- Seal out decay! Getting sealants on the grooves of your biting surfaces of your teeth can help block the bacteria from starting cavities in your teeth
- If your child has cavities, get them fixed ASAP! The longer you wait, the larger they can get meaning more extensive dental work. A simple filling could require and crown if left untreated for just a few months
- Get YOUR cavities fixed! Like we said before, cavities are transmissible infectious disease. You as a caregiver are most likely to pass the bacteria to your child. If you know you have cavities, getting the work done could prevent cavities in your own child!