Children’s Dentistry: The Start of Cavities

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Can babies get cavities?

It is very easy to get cavities even as a baby. The enamel on baby teeth is very thin, and does not offer as much protection. The good news is there are safe and effective preventive measures that can protect baby teeth. Good oral hygiene practices such as thorough brushing with fluoride toothpaste can help prevent cavities in children. In addition, dental sealants, fluoride treatments, and community water fluoridation are two other strategies that can help prevent cavities in baby teeth.

How do cavities in children develop?

When a tooth is exposed to acid frequently — for example, if you eat or drink often, especially foods or drinks containing sugar and starches — the repeated cycles of acid attacks cause the enamel to continue to lose minerals on a baby tooth. A white spot may appear where minerals have been lost. This is a sign of early decay, the beginning of a cavity in a child. With this, it is always good to finish a meal with water (rinses the surface of teeth).

Does a white spot on your child’s teeth mean a cavity?

If you see a white spot on your child’s tooth, don’t panic! Tooth decay in baby teeth can be stopped or reversed at this point. Enamel can repair itself by using minerals from saliva, and fluoride from toothpaste or other sources. If children can stop the progression of the cavity by decreasing the amount of time the teeth are exposed to acid then the cavity in the baby tooth may never progress to the point of needing a filling.

But if the tooth decay process continues, more minerals are lost. Over time, the enamel is weakened and destroyed, forming a cavity. A cavity is permanent damage that a dentist has to repair with a filling. Cavities in baby teeth still can be detrimental to children. Baby teeth act like a reservation for a spot for a permanent tooth to come in. If cavities in children progress to the point where the tooth is lost , the space for the permanent tooth can be diminished.

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