Most of the time cavities are due to a diet high in sugary foods and a lack of brushing.
Every time someone eats, an acid reaction occurs inside their mouth as the bacteria digest the sugars. This reaction lasts approximately 20 – 40 minutes. During this time the acid environment can destroy the tooth structure, eventually leading to cavities. Limiting sugar intake and brushing regularly, of course, can help. The longer the residue stays on teeth, the greater the chances of getting cavities. So, limiting sticky, chewy, sugar-containing foods and snacks is important.
Consistency of a person's saliva also makes a difference as thinner saliva breaks up and washes away food more quickly. When a person eats a diet high in carbohydrates and sugars, they tend to have thicker saliva, which in turn produces more of the acid-producing bacteria that causes cavities.
Some tips for cavity prevention:
• Limit frequency of meals and snacks.
• Encourage brushing, flossing, and rinsing.
• Watch what you drink.
• Avoid sticky foods.
• Make treats part of meals.
• Choose nutritious snacks.
While many people believe periodontal disease (Gum Disease) is an adult problem, studies indicate that gingivitis (the first stage of periodontal disease) is nearly a universal problem among children and adolescents. Advanced forms of periodontal disease are more rare in children than adults, but can occur.
Chronic gingivitis is common in children. It can cause gum tissue to swell, turn red, and bleed easily. Gingivitis is preventable and treatable with a regular routine of brushing, flossing, and professional dental care. If left untreated, it can eventually advance to more serious forms of periodontal disease.
Localized aggressive periodontal disease can affect young healthy children. It is found in teenagers and young adults. It mainly affects the first molars and incisors (front teeth). It is characterized by the severe loss of alveolar bone, and ironically, patients generally form very little dental plaque or calculus.
Generalized aggressive periodontal disease may begin around puberty and involve the entire mouth. It is marked by inflammation of the gums and heavy accumulations of plaque and calculus. Eventually it can cause the teeth to become loose.
Conditions that make children more susceptible to periodontal disease include:
• Type I diabetes
• Down syndrome
• Papillon-Lefevre syndrome
Adolescence & Oral Care
There is evidence that demonstrates how periodontal disease may increase during adolescence due to lack of motivation to practice oral hygiene. Children who maintain good oral health habits up into the teen years are more likely to continue brushing and flossing than children who were not taught proper oral care.
Advice For Parents
Early diagnosis is important for successful treatment of periodontal diseases. Therefore, it is important that children receive a periodontal examination as part of their routine dental visits. Be aware that if your child has an advanced form of periodontal disease, this may be an early sign of systemic disease. A general medical evaluation should be considered for children who exhibit severe periodontal disease, especially if it appears resistant to therapy.
An important step in the fight against periodontal disease is to establish good oral health habits with your child early. When your child is about a year old, you can begin using toothpaste when brushing their teeth. However, only use a pea-sized portion on the brush and press it into the bristles so your child won't eat it. When the gaps between your child's teeth close, it's important to start flossing.
You, as the parent, can serve as a good role model by practicing good oral health care habits and scheduling regular dental visits for family check-ups, periodontal evaluations, and cleanings.
Check your child's mouth for the signs of periodontal disease, including: bleeding gums, swollen and bright red gums, gums that are receding away from the teeth, and / or bad breath.
If your child currently has poor oral health habits, work with your child to change these now. It's much easier to modify these habits in a child than in an adult. Since your child models behavior after you, it follows that you should serve as a positive role model in your oral hygiene habits. A healthy smile, good breath, and strong teeth all contribute to a young person's sense of personal appearance, as well as confidence and self-esteem.