Preventing Cavities in Kids
Nobody enjoys having a cavity, least of all children. Yet the latest data from the Academy of General Dentistry shows that cavities are increasing among U.S. preschoolers. Here are some tips for cavity prevention that will help your child buck this trend and earn kudos from the dentist during your next visit.
What causes cavities?
Cavities are caused when food particles or bacteria sit on the teeth for too long and begin to eat away at the enamel, much like a hot rock placed on a piece of rubber will slowly start burning a hole through it. As one food particle begins to eat away at a tooth, it forms a tiny little divot that can then trap other food particles which eat away at that area. As this process continues over and over again, it starts to eat away a sizeable portion of the tooth, resulting in a cavity.
Any type of food particle can contribute to this, but not all food particles are created equal. Some are rather harmless whereas others are much more acidic and corrosive. The obvious culprits are candy, sugary foods and sodas, sour or citrus foods, and so on, but other types of food bacteria can also contribute to cavities.
What types of candies cause the most cavities?
We all know that sugar is bad for the teeth. But certain types of candies are more problematic than others, because they stick to the teeth and get caught in hard to clean places. "Candies like Skittles and Starburst are the ones to avoid because they're sticky and dissolve slowly in the mouth," says Samuel Papino, D.D.S. (Parents, Oct. 2011, p. 29) Chocolate candies that dissolve easily are much better than things like taffy, since they don't stick to the teeth as much.
This doesn't mean you have to eliminate chewy candies, just limit them, and have children rinse their mouth with water afterwards to try and rinse away sugary residue that gets stuck to their teeth. Snacking on something like a few crackers afterwards can also help remove any stuck-on candy.
Cavity prevention for parents