Common medical questions and answers through blogs and articles

The First Cavity

All parents dreams of perfect dental checkups for their children. Every time you send your child off to the dentist, you hope to hear that all-important phrase, “Look, Ma, no cavities!” Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world, and that means that your child may, at times, return from a visit to the dentist with news of one or more cavities. So what do you do when you hear those words… ‘I have a cavity’… for the first time? Is there anything you, as a parent, can do about this cavity, or anything you can do to prevent the next one? The good news about cavities is that they’re virtually always preventable. And, yes, there is a lot you, as a parent, can do to help your child’s next and subsequent dental checkups be cavity-free. Here are some tips from dentists about cavities, how to react to your child’s first cavity, and concrete steps that you, as a parent, can take to prevent further cavities.

What is a cavity?

Put simply, a cavity is a hole. That means it’s tooth decay. That’s right. Cavities are actual decaying of teeth. Tooth decay is caused by bad bacteria building up in the mouth that doesn’t get washed away by either brushing or flossing, or by saliva (which is why saliva is so important to the mouth). However, because not all food particles get washed away by saliva, it’s vital to properly care for teeth and their surrounding mouth structures in order to prevent cavities and other tooth decay. Sugary, starchy, and processed foods can be particularly bad on teeth because they leave behind loads of bad bacteria that can be particularly hard to get rid of with saliva alone, which is where brushing and flossing come in. Additionally, it’s important to eat a proper diet that’s rich in nutrients that are vital for teeth and their surrounding structures.

What should you do about your child’s first cavity?

Nothing, right? Wrong. Though there’s really nothing you can do about the fact that your child has already experienced his first cavity, there are ways to effectively treat that cavity. First and most importantly (and probably most obviously), your child’s dentist must treat the cavity in order to prevent further tooth decay. Second, it’s a good idea to impart to your child the importance of avoiding chewy foods that can negatively affect the cavity and its filling. Lastly, it’s good for you, as a parent, to let your child know that, though he’s not in trouble for getting a cavity (especially if you, yourself, have cavities!), it’s vital that he takes good care of his teeth to avoid getting cavities in the future.

What can you do to prevent your child from getting more cavities in the future?

It’s vital for your child to practice a proper oral hygiene routine in order to prevent her from developing any more cavities. A nutrient-rich diet, proper brushing, flossing, and regular dental checkups are what it takes to avoid cavities. First, be sure your child is getting enough of the nutrients in her diet that are important to teeth. Calcium, phosphorous, vitamin D, vitamin A, iron, and vitamin C… these are some of the nutrients that are vital to your child’s teeth to keep them healthy for a lifetime. Next is brushing. Proper brushing techniques include brushing at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and also include using a soft- or medium-bristled brush that doesn’t harm gums. The next step is one that many people avoid but shouldn’t… flossing. If your child isn’t flossing at least once a day, you’ll likely see more of those cavities in the future. Flossing is the best way to dislodge food particles. In fact, even brushing won’t get in between teeth spaces as effectively as flossing will. Finally, your child’s oral hygiene is greatly dependent upon bi-annual dental checkups. A dentist not only will properly clean teeth, but also will be able to notice any changes occurring within your child’s mouth long before you can.

Yes, cavities are tooth decay. Yes, your child may have had cavities in the past. Yes, your child may have cavities in the future. No, it doesn’t have to be this way. The great thing about cavities is that they are one of the most preventable medical conditions that can occur in the human body. You won’t be able to stop your child’s first crush. You might not even be able to stop your child from getting that first ‘C’ on a test. And you may not have been able to prevent your child from getting cavities in the past. But there are things you can do to ensure positive dental checkups from here on out. For more information on best practices for your child’s optimal oral hygiene, consult a dentist in Clearwater to schedule an appointment.

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