With celebrations such as National Dessert Month and Halloween, October is the sweetest month of the year. Letting children indulge in too many sweets, however, can lead to various oral health issues, including cavities and tooth decay.
Mark Covington, lead pediatric dentist at Dentistry for Children in Stone Mountain, shares answers to the most commonly asked questions in an effort to arm parents with the tools needed to keep their children’s smiles happy and healthy.
1. What role does sugar play in oral health?
Did you know that no matter how many times you brush your teeth, everyone has bacteria in their mouth? When you have a sugary treat, such as candy or a soda, the bacteria feed on the sugars in your mouth. In addition to the obvious sugary treats, the breakdown of starchy foods (potato chips, crackers, etc.) produces simple sugars for bacteria to feed on as well. As the bacteria eat, they produce an acidic waste. Once bacteria colonize and feed on sugars in the mouth, the group produces enough acid to cause a cavity. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends kids at least rinse their mouths with water three or four times after eating sugary or starchy foods to help cut down on acidity in the mouth.
2. What exactly is a cavity?
A cavity is a brown or black spot or a hole through the enamel, caused by acidic waste from bacteria, which results in tooth decay.
3. What are some ways to prevent cavities?
A child’s diet and regular visits (every six months) to the dentist’s office are the greatest allies parents have in the battle against cavities. The less sugar in a child’s diet, the less likely bacteria will thrive, grow and produce the decay-causing acid. The Georgia Dental Association also encourages the practice of good oral hygiene at home and at the dental office – it is important children get in the habit of brushing, flossing and rinsing at home. Regular professional cleanings, exams and fluoride treatments allow your dentist to be a partner in your child’s continued oral health and aid in the prevention of tooth decay.
4. What are some symptoms of a cavity?
Some children experience mild to sharp tooth pain or an achy feeling after eating something sweet or drinking something hot or cold. Pain when biting down, pus around a tooth, and visible pits or holes in the teeth are symptoms as well.
5. What should you do if your child has a cavity?
We recommend you schedule an appointment as quickly as possible if your child is experiencing any of the symptoms above. Leaving a cavity untreated can result in various oral health complications, including the loss of the infected tooth.
How much candy do you let your children eat? Tell us in the comments-