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Five Common Causes of Childhood Tooth Decay

Five Common Causes of Childhood Tooth Decay

Baby teeth aren’t throwaways. They set the structure for your child’s jaw, enable your child to chew, and give them a confident smile. Children are vulnerable to tooth decay, but it can largely be avoided with good hygiene, regular dental visits, and smart habits.

At Penguin Pediatrics, Dr. Umesh Kodu and Dr. Andrea McKennon, want you to know about these five common causes of childhood tooth decay.

1. Sugary foods and drinks

If your child has a sweet tooth, they’re more vulnerable to developing tooth decay. Sugar sticks to the surface of teeth for longer than other foods, so is more likely to cause decay. This means sodas, candy, and even juice can be a culprit.

But sugar is not the only food to blame for tooth decay. Any food that wedges in your teeth can lead to decay. Cookies, chips, fruit snacks, and dried fruit are examples. Milk, honey, pretzels, and crackers can also lead to decay if not rinsed away after a snack. 

Have your child brush diligently twice a day and avoid letting them snack too close to bedtime, where they’re likely to fall asleep without rinsing away any food debris. Infants and toddlers who fall asleep with a bottle are also vulnerable to decay.

2. Parents’ oral bacteria

Babies are born without the harmful bacteria that causes tooth decay. But, mom and dad usually infect their children before they reach the age of two. If you eat from the same spoon as your baby, you pass the germs along. 

Once your child has this oral bacteria, they’re more prone to developing cavities and tooth decay. 

3. Delayed dental visits

You may not think a visit to the dentist is essential for babies, but it is. Children should see a dentist before they reach the age of 1. If you wait longer, decay may have already set in. 

Prioritize fixing cavities in baby teeth, too. Don’t just ignore them. You want baby teeth to last as they should and fall out naturally, not due to premature decay. The primary teeth help your child’s mouth and jaw maintain proper alignment and good overall health. 

4. Poor dental hygiene

Kids need help brushing their teeth until at least age 6. They may do well brushing their front teeth, but the teeth in the back are ignored as are the inside surfaces. 

Even if your child has the dexterity to brush their own teeth, they may need a little help with creating good habits. Children are likely to be lax about brushing and, especially, flossing. Be present during their brushing time and make sure it lasts 2 minutes each time. Also, encourage good flossing to get food particles between teeth. 

5. Lack of fluoride 

The water in Ashburn is fluoridated, but if your family relies on bottled water, your child may not be getting the fluoride they need. Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel so it’s less vulnerable to bacteria. 

Always use a fluoride toothpaste and talk to us about fluoride treatments. These treatments are pain-free and involve painting a fluoride-containing compound onto your child’s teeth. They’ll need to refrain from eating or drinking for about 30 minutes. 

If you’re worried about tooth decay in your child, call one of our offices in Ashburn or Stone Ridge, Virginia, or use the online booking tool to make an appointment. Our team can help evaluate your child’s risk and offer tips and treatments to help them maintain good oral health for a lifetime. 

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