Kid’s Cavities: Heredity vs. Habits

Centennial pediatric dentist first visitMany parents are surprised to learn that children are susceptible to cavities as soon as their first tooth erupts. 

What causes cavities?  

Cavities are caused by the interplay between heredity and habits. 


Cavities are caused by a type of bacteria called strep. mutans. Remarkably, children are born without these cavity-causing germs.  You may be surprised to hear that parents and grandparents can actually spread these germs to their young children at an early age without even knowing it.

These germs can be transferred when parents taste their child’s food with a spoon, for example, and then feed their child from that same spoon.  Other examples of transmitting these bacteria from parent to child are sharing the same toothbrush or food.

Once a child has been exposed to these bacteria, they are now at risk of developing cavities on their baby and future adult teeth.  If you have a family history of dental decay/cavities, you might consider minimizing sharing eating utensils with them or even drinking after one another.

Of course, this is unrealistic for most families! This is where good oral hygiene habits come into play.

Oral Hygiene Habits

Good oral hygiene is an important factor in preventing cavities, regardless if you have a family history of cavities or not.  Daily brushing of the front, back and top surfaces of your child’s teeth twice a day and flossing in between your child’s teeth at least once each day will help remove the biofilm (sticky substance caused by bacteria in mouth mixing with sugary foods, that causes cavities and gum disease) from all surfaces of the teeth.

It is essential to use a fluoride toothpaste to protect your child’s teeth, particularly in some counties where the water is not fluoridated. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste (less than a grain of rice) for children under 3. Older children should use about a pea sized drop of fluoride toothpaste.

Read more: Is your child getting enough fluoride?

If your child does not yet have the fine motor skills to write in cursive, an adult should be part of the nightly brushing process.

One key factor in preventing the buildup of biofilm is to limit the frequency of sugar in your child’s diet.  Some examples of acid-filled foods that should be limited are gum, sugary cereal, crackers and juice.

It is important to brush your child’s teeth with a fluoride toothpaste soon after eating these kinds of foods (if possible) to help strengthen their teeth and fight cavities.

Pediatric Dentist in Centennial, CO

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that children should have their first dental visit by their first birthday.  At this time, your dentist will be able to examine your child’s teeth for cavities as well as discuss your child’s risk for cavities.

Are you looking for a pediatric dentist in Centennial, CODr. Kathleen Young is a family dentist accepting new pediatric patients and loves caring for all members of the family.

Call us at Young Family and Cosmetic Dentistry today to schedule your family for their next dental exam and cleaning!

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