Dr. Harmeet Dhaliwal’s Dental Tips for Parents Tip #3
An Ounce of Prevention
Let’s talk cavities and how to prevent your child from getting them in the first place, besides the commonly known strategies of brushing and avoiding sugar. I find one of the biggest contributing factors in children is constantly snacking. Every time we eat, there is an acidic environment created in our mouths that takes about 30 minutes to recover back to neutral. If we keep snacking, rather than getting back into that protective neutral phase, our teeth stay in a constant acidic phase and the enamel will be at risk for developing decay. This is also why if you are going to eat something sweet, like Halloween candy, to do it at mealtimes, to limit it to one period of acidity as opposed to multiple, prolonged periods thereafter. The mouth being in an acidic state after eating causes the enamel to be softer. This is also why we recommend waiting about 30 minutes before brushing as the enamel could be worn away with brushing in an acidic state.
In addition, baby teeth are more porous or sponge-like than adult teeth, so they are more prone to decay in general. This is why we recommend trying to brush after every-thing eaten if possible, or at least rinsing your child’s mouth with water by having them swish it around. The takeaway is after eating making sure food does not stay on their teeth.
Lastly, people who’ve had a lot of cavities can have a higher concentration of the cavity causing bacteria in their mouths. We are not born with this type of bacteria in our mouths – it is transferred to a child sometimes through things like a parent licking a pacifier to clean it for their child or eating with the same spoon they are feeding their child with. If you yourself have a high cavity rate, it may be best to try to avoid some of these things as best you can.