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Common Causes of Cavities in Kids Teeth

Tsawwassen Place Dental is a family-oriented dental practice, and we always enjoy seeing young children. Our friendly dental team takes extensive care to ensure children’s dental visits are enjoyable, gently treating children as if they were our own.

While tooth decay is a preventable disease, cavities are unfortunately quite common in toddlers and older children. We know anyone with a young child will want to ensure they grow up with a strong, healthy smile that is cavity-free. Understanding why cavities develop can help you take a proactive approach to your child’s dental care.

How Does Tooth Decay Develop?

Everybody knows that sugary foods cause cavities, but did you know other foods high in processed carbohydrates turn to sugar once consumed? These sugars feed bacteria found naturally in the mouth in dental plaque, a sticky biofilm that builds up over tooth surfaces between regular brushing and flossing. As these bacteria thrive on the sugars, they produce acid that in turn weakens tooth enamel, the hard outer coating of a tooth. Eventually, the acids erode tooth enamel to such an extent that they create an opening or cavity in the tooth. Once the bacteria penetrate tooth enamel, they can more easily destroy the softer layer underneath, called dentin. A small hole in dental enamel can sometimes hide a much larger cavity underneath. Eventually, the cavity becomes so large that it reaches the tooth nerve, by which stage it causes toothache and pain.

Importance of Early Dental Care

There are many reasons children can develop tooth decay, and sometimes parents don’t realize the importance of early dental care. We love to see children while they are still very young, soon after getting their first teeth. There’s a good reason for bringing a child to visit us at this stage. Our dentists, Dr. Sarah Harland or Dr. Tom Greene, can carefully and gently check a young child’s mouth to make sure everything is developing as it should. At the same time, we can provide a wealth of useful information on caring for your baby’s first teeth and helping them maintain strong teeth as they grow up.

As soon as teeth appear, they need to be kept clean using a baby toothbrush and a smear of toothpaste. Our friendly dental team can show you how to clean your child’s teeth, offering advice on which toothbrush and toothpaste to use. Starting oral care early on will also help your child get into a routine, so they know it’s perfectly normal to have their teeth cleaned regularly and to see a dentist. It’s a great way to help ensure your child grows up without any dental fears and anxieties.

Other Factors That Can Cause Tooth Decay

Other factors that can cause tooth decay in children include giving them too many sugary drinks or putting them to bed with a bottle.

Even milk and formula contain sugar, which is why it’s important to clean your baby’s teeth and gums after each feeding. Another common culprit is fruit juice, as although it may seem tasty and healthy, it is laden with sugars and best kept as a very occasional treat.

Many parents will put their child to bed with a bottle or sippy cup to help soothe them to sleep. However, giving a child a sugary drink before bed ensures their teeth remain coated with sugars overnight. As we produce less saliva during sleep, it creates the perfect conditions for bacteria to thrive, causing a condition sometimes called baby bottle tooth decay. If you give your child formula or milk before bed, make sure you remove the bottle or sippy cup and clean their teeth before falling asleep.

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