Cavities in a child are often called early childhood tooth decay. When your child’s teeth are repeatedly being exposed to sugars for a long period of time, this can lead to tooth decay. This is because plaque, a sticky film of bacteria in your child’s mouth produces acids that attack tooth enamel (the outer layer of your child’s teeth). The stickiness of the plaque keeps the acids in contact with the teeth. After many such attacks, the enamel can breakdown, get soft and cavities can form.
As soon as your child has primary (baby) teeth, you should check them once a week for signs of tooth decay. Here’s what you should look for:
- Dull or chalking white spots or lines on the teeth;
- Brown spots on the teeth (remember to look along the gum line);
- Dark teeth.
Also, if your child has difficulty eating cold, sweet or hard food, this may be another sign of tooth decay. If you see any of these signs, take your child to the dentist right away.
Early childhood tooth decay is preventable. A few ways to stop it include:
- Never put your child to bed with a bottle or sippy cup, unless it contains only water;
- Between meals, give your children water to drink;
- Clean you child’s gums and teeth every day. Wipe the gums with a clean cloth. * Brush the teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
Dentistry on Sinclair is pleased to announce the launch of our High Risk Caries Program. The High Risk Caries Program is a 10 to 12 month program designed to reduce the risk of decay in your mouth. The focus of the program will be an optimization of your homecare routine, including nutritional counselling and exposure to enamel strengthening fluoride.
How Diet Contributes to the Risk of Dental Decay
Each and every time we eat any form of carbohydrate the sugars present in it mix with the bacteria in our mouth to produce an acid attack on our teeth. It is this acid attack that results in tooth decay. The acid attack isn’t over as soon as the food is swallowed—it takes time for the saliva in our mouth to neutralize the acid attack.
HIGH RISK FOODS
- Cough Drops/Antacids
- Dried Fruit, i.e. raisins
- Fruit Juices
- Ice Cream/Frozen fruit treats
- Jams and Jellies
- Chocolate milk
- Granola bars
- Soda/Pop (including diet)
- Sports Drinks i.e. Gatorade
- Sweetened yogurt
- Coffee or Tea with sugar
LOW RISK FOODS
- Fresh fruit
- Seeds (sunflower, pumpkin)
- Raw vegetables
- Unsweetened yogurt
- Celery with cheese
- Cheese and crackers (multigrain is best)
- Unsweetened applesauce
- Coffee or Tea no sugar
- White milk
Where possible avoid foods in the High Risk Category especially between meals because the frequency of consumed high risk foods plays a role in the development of tooth decay. Higher risk foods that are slowly dissolving (i.e. hard candies, lozenges) are the worst for the teeth as the acid attack is prolonged, followed by sticky foods (i.e. jelly beans, fruit chews, pretzels)that are not easily cleared from the mouth, and finally liquids (pop, sports drinks, milk). Higher risk foods should be eaten only as part of a meal and preferably at the start of a meal. When consumed at the end of a meal or as a between meal snack, eat with water and either finish with a piece of cheese or sugarless gum or brush teeth well to decrease the acid attack.
Click here to download our diet analysis