So honestly, the first question that came to my mind when I was told that my four year old has a bunch of cavities was whether it is worth fixing since she will lose them anyway. The dentist looked at me as if I was crazy, but hey... I was just thinking out loud. Plus, has anyone really done a randomized control trial to see if the treatment actually does decrease morbidity/mortality/quality of life and if all the trauma leading up to the treatment worth it? Okay okay... so since no one will probably perform that study, I suppose it is better to be on the safe side.
I truly was surprised at the number of cavities because we had been brushing her teeth twice a day and she does not really eat that many sweets. Plus, she had been seeing a dentist and getting regular cleanings since she was one year old. So after doing a little research I realize that the reason lies in a combination of factors and circumstances.
- First of all... cavities is contagious and I likely passed the bug to her. I had a root canal this past fall so I definitely had the cavity forming bacteria and it is easy to pass through occasionally sharing utensils or even kissing. I read that 80% of all cavities are found in only 25% kids! Here are a couple of articles I found interesting:
- So once you have the bacteria (like Streptococcus mutans), it feeds on the foods you eat. So common preschool favorites like apple juice, fruit snacks, goldfish all are things the bacteria will feed on and produce acid as a result. The acid eats away at the tooth.
- Finally... fluoride and good dental hygiene with brushing and flossing is key. Though we brushed my daughter's teeth twice day we were not so good with flossing. Therefore, all her cavities were in between her molars.. the hard to reach places with the toothbrush.
So now what?
- We're trying to be better with dental health and hygiene with everyone in the family... especially caregivers
- Trying to be better at avoiding sharing drinks or utensils
- Offering more water and less juice to the kids
- Brushing three times a day now after every meal instead of just twice a day
- And of course... regular dental check-ups! I actually need to get my other two kids to the dentist... I'm just having a hard time finding a good pediatric dentist I like in this area...
Bottom line is if the adults or caregivers have cavities themselves, your kids will be more high risk of getting cavities and may have to be more vigilant in prevention than those lucky folks who are not colonized!