Cavities are caused by bacteria or germs that live in the mouth, and grow by sugary and sticky foods and drinks.
When the bacteria digest food they create acids that soften our teeth. This is a gradual process. With proper care it can be avoided. Everything we eat and drink — with the exception of water has the potential to cause cavities if the teeth are not cared for properly.
Cavities and decay can start early. We often see infants and toddlers with “Early Childhood Caries.” It is a disease that is caused by improper or prolonged use of the bottle, sippy cup, and/or improper breastfeeding. Appropriate oral hygiene measures will reduce the risk of nursing-pattern decay, both for the breast-fed and bottled fed baby.
When it comes to cavity prevention, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- No bottle after one year of age.
- Never allow your child to sleep with a bottle or sippy cup.
- Avoid extended and repetitive feeding times (nursing, bottle or food even.) Focus on meals, not snacks.
- Limit the juice and soda. None is ideal, but allow children no more than three 8 oz. servings daily.
- Snack healthfully on things like fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese or plain popcorn.
- Avoid chips, crackers, cheese curls, cookies, cake and candy.
- Help your child brush his or her teeth twice daily until the age of eight. At this point, you can begin supervising your child’s brushing.
- Remember that liquid medicines also may contain high levels of sugar. Always clean your child’s teeth after he/she takes medicine.