Cavities happen when teeth break down because bacteria weaken their outer layer, also known as enamel. If continuously exposed to sugar, bacteria produce acid that dissolves minerals out of teeth. The early stage of breakdown for enamel starts off as smooth bright white spots. These spots may eventually turn dark yellow or brown when the inner infected layer of the tooth is exposed. At this point teeth continue getting weaker until they are restored by a dentist with a filling or a crown. In a worst-case scenario, these infections spread to the inner pulp of a tooth and can cause a painful abscess that may require extraction.
The mouth is full of many types of bacteria. One specific type causes cavities. If parents have a history of cavities, then their children are at high risk of getting the same bacteria in his or her mouth that may eventually cause cavities. These harmful bacteria can be passed on by licking pacifiers, kissing, sharing utensils, etc. The most common source of cavity-causing bacteria for a child is his or her mother. If an adult has a history of cavities, be careful not to spread saliva at any level with a child. Even infants without teeth can catch the cavity-causing bacteria if they’ve had contact with the infected saliva of another person.
The good news about cavities is that they can be prevented! With twice daily tooth brushing, fluoride, and limited sugar, every child has the potential to be cavity free. It’s never too early to protect your child’s mouth from future cavities.
If you see discolored spots or broken down teeth in your child’s mouth, a pediatric dentist can help diagnose and treat these problems. Depending on the size of a cavity, there are different ways to fix teeth and make them healthy again. Pediatric dentists are responsibility for protecting not only the baby tooth in question but also the grown up tooth developing underneath the baby tooth. If a baby tooth with a cavity is left untreated, serious damage can happen to the permanent tooth under it if the cavity turns into an abscess. Talk with your dentists about the specific tooth decay risks your child may have based on diet, family history, hygiene practices, etc. Prevention is key and every family is capable of great habits to make sure children have healthy mouths.
Read more about other dental topics that affect your children.Back to Dental Topics
Dr. Shane Fisher
Dr. Shane Fisher, a board certified pediatric dentist, has over 15 years of providing comprehensive dental care for infants, children and teenagers. He has consistently received 5 star ratings throughout social media. He has patients that travel from all over the metropolitan area including Mequon, Whitefish Bay, Thiensville, River Hills, Fox Point, Glendale and other northern Milwaukee suburbs.
If you would like for your child to have a great experience at a pediatric dentist, please call Dr. Shane A. Fisher at The Kids Dentist 262-241-0400 or complete an online appointment request.