Saliva is your body’s best mechanism for fighting the destructive forces of acids formed by plaque. Saliva acts as a buffer and re-mineralizing agent. Sugarless gum is one way to stimulate the flow of saliva in your mouth in between brushings.
The best way to prevent cavities, however, is to brush and floss your child’s teeth twice daily. (Use a small piece of wetted gauze or a washcloth to wipe away plaque on your infant’s teeth.) Fluoride, a natural substance that also helps re-mineralize the tooth structure, is used in community water systems and is a main ingredient of many types of toothpastes. If your child is at medium to high risk for cavities, we may recommend special high concentration fluoride gels, mouth rinses, or dietary fluoride supplements.
Children are the most susceptible to developing cavities. Heredity also may play a major role in how susceptible your child’s teeth are to the formation of a cavity. For example, tooth structure, size, and shape may be passed down through many generations. This includes deep pits and grooves, which are ideal "plaque traps."
Many cavities originate in the hard-to-clean areas between teeth and in the fissures and pits – the edges in the tooth crown and gaps between teeth.
Common symptoms of a possible cavity may include:
- A painful toothache
- Higher sensitivity in your teeth to hot or cold temperatures, liquids, or food
- The presence of decay such as white spots
- Tooth discolorations
Often, cavities develop without any pain or other symptoms. That is why it is so important to schedule your child for regular, routine visits with our office.
Left untreated, cavities can lead to more serious problems for your child, such as infection of the core of the tooth (pulp) or root canal, permanent deterioration, and even loss of the tooth itself.
Your child should avoid frequent consumption of high sugar foods, especially sticky foods, because the longer the food stays on your teeth and gums, the greater the likelihood a cavity will form. Healthy snacks that are low in sugar include white milk, fresh fruits, raw vegetables, dark breads, whole grain and enriched cereals, sugar free candies, gum and other snacks. High sugar foods are best eaten with a regular meal.