A cavity is tooth decay, which occurs when specific types of bacteria produce acid that destroys the tooth’s enamel and its underlying core, otherwise known as dentin. Cavities in toddlers are more common than you may think. In an article by the New York Times, dentists nationwide are reporting an increasing number of preschoolers with six to ten cavities or more.
In many cases, the decay is so severe, that our Meridian dentist is prompted to use general anesthesia to remove the cavities. Symptoms of cavities include having a toothache, pain while chewing, and experiencing sensitivity to sweet flavors and varying temperatures.
To avoid putting your child at risk for cavities, it’s important to follow a routine that keeps their mouth as healthy as possible. You should be cleaning your child’s mouth as early as infancy. Babies' gums should be wiped thoroughly with a wet washcloth or a small piece of gauze daily. Once their teeth erupt, start brushing their teeth with wet gauze or your finger to brush to gently brush along the baby's gums. You can also use a small soft kid’s toothbrush and toothpaste to clean their teeth and mouth.
The American Dental Association and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend that children should visit the dentist as soon as they grow their first tooth, and no later than age one or two. At the dental visit, our Meridian serving dentist, Dr. Stillings, will assess your child’s mouth, gums, and teeth for decay. We'll also look at your child’s bite and check for anything else that may be alarming. Also, ask about fluoride intake and how to ensure your child is getting enough. Remember that dental checkups should occur twice a year.
Sugary snacks and drinks are one of the main causes of tooth decay. Consumption of foods such as fruit snacks, candy, and gummies and sugary beverages should be limited. You should also be careful not to allow your child to drink juice from a sippy cup for long periods. This allows sugar to feast on their teeth and form bacteria. Water is a healthier, sugar-free alternative. You also shouldn't let your child fall asleep with a bottle in their mouth. Milk pooling in the mouth is one of the most common causes of cavities in toddlers.
Be sure to maintain your child's healthy smile while teaching them the importance of proper dental hygiene as they grow up! Call (208) 377-3206 if you have any questions, concerns, or would like to schedule an appointment with our Meridian dentist, Dr. Stillings.