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What Foods Cause Cavities in Children

cavities in children treatment by pediatric dentist

Your child’s teeth affect their overall health. After all, they help your child speak clearly, as well as help cut/grind their food before they swallow it. Cavities, or tooth decay, are permanently damaged areas of the tooth and can cause speech and nutrition problems. A child is susceptible to cavities as soon as their first tooth erupts, around 6 months old.

At Palisades Dental Care, cavities are one of the most common dental issues we encounter in toddlers and children. Unfortunately, many parents don’t think that cavities in primary teeth are a big deal. After all, they will eventually fall out. However, you should never ignore a cavity, as it can escalate over time and eventually reach the tooth pulp, which will cause pain and abscess.

Signs and Symptoms of Cavities in Children

Cavities develop when plaque buildup begins to eat away at the tooth enamel, causing a hole to develop. Proper oral hygiene habits, such as brushing and flossing, can prevent plaque buildup. Therefore, cavities often are the result of children not practicing proper oral hygiene.

Unfortunately, cavities can be difficult to detect in children. The signs and symptoms are not always obvious in the early stages. However, as the cavity continues to grow, keep an eye out for the following signs:

It is important to note that you need to contact the office right away if your child has pain, fever, and/or swelling. It may indicate that they have an abscess, which can lead to severe infection and potential hospitalization.

Foods that Cause Cavities in Children

Everyone has bacteria in their mouth. When we eat/drink, the bacteria feed on sugars and starches, which results in acid being released. These acids combine with bacteria, food debris, and saliva to form plaque. Over time, if the plaque isn’t removed and the minerals replaced, cavities form.

Does this mean that all foods have the potential to cause cavities? Not necessarily. There are a few additional factors involved.

First of all, it’s important to note that not all sugary/starchy foods are created equal- time is the biggest factor. Foods that are eaten slowly and/or will be stuck in the teeth for an extended period of time are more likely to cause damage to teeth.

For example, a fresh pear does contain sugars, but it is typically eaten in one sitting and doesn’t get trapped in teeth. Dried fruit, on the other hand, is typically eaten at a leisurely pace and is known for getting stuck in the teeth. Therefore, it’s much more likely to cause cavities when it’s eaten often.

Foods like pretzels and crackers seem healthier than sweets like ice cream, but when it comes to dental health- this isn’t the case. Ice cream is usually eaten quickly and rinses easily from teeth. Pretzels and crackers, on the other hand, are refined starches, are eaten as a snack, and often get stuck in teeth.

The foods that are most likely to cause cavities in Children are:

Healthy Foods for Children Teeth

If you want to support healthy teeth/gums in children, there are certain vitamins and minerals you need to make sure they are getting:

Arginine, calcium, and phosphorous can re-mineralize your child’s teeth, which can reverse the effects of cavity-causing acids. These nutrients can be found in whole grains, lentils, milk, nuts/seeds, yogurt, beans, and cheese.

Many acidic foods such as tomatoes and citrus fruits contain Vitamin C. However, this mineral is needed to ensure that the gums and other tissues that hold teeth in place remain healthy. Therefore, in order to benefit from these foods, they should be eaten as part of a balanced diet. If possible, serve them with a meal- not a standalone snack.

Foods that support healthy teeth include:

There are a few foods that, when eaten all day or in excess, may contribute to tooth decay- but they are necessary for a balanced diet or have nutrients that can benefit your child’s teeth, including:

Choosing these foods and having ice cream, popcorn, or dark chocolate for special occasions can help prevent the development of cavities in children and teens.

Why choose a Pediatric Dentist for Children?

While it’s true that a family dentist practices general dentistry for all ages, a pediatric dentist only works with pediatric patients. There are several reasons why you should choose a pediatric dentist for your child:

We are experts. Pediatric dentists receive additional training to treat children of all ages. A portion of that additional training involves working with really tiny teeth from cleaning to filling cavities to extractions, when necessary.
We can handle your child’s personality- whether they are super shy or extremely chatty.
If your child has bad habits, such as thumb sucking, pacifier use, or just won’t let go of the bottle, we can help you get those habits under control.
Our hygienists are also trained to work with smaller patients. They use tools that are designed for your child’s smaller mouth and jaw. Plus, they will show your child each instrument that they are going to use and explain what it is going to do. This makes the visit educational and entertaining- and hopefully prevents dental anxiety in the future.
We also have training in working with patients who have special needs.
At the end of each visit, we give your child a prize. This also can help prevent dental anxiety in the future.
We understand how to make your child’s visit enjoyable. In fact, most of our pediatric patients look forward to coming for a visit.

Schedule Your Consultation Today

If you need a pediatric dentist, consider scheduling your consultation with our specialist, Dr. Sharlini Sockanathan. She has the training and expertise to make sure that your child’s dental visit is pleasant. We are located on East Madison Avenue in Dumont, New Jersey. Our office hours are:

Monday: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Tuesday: 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Wednesday: 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Thursday: 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Friday: 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Saturday: By Appointment Only
Sunday: Closed

We look forward to meeting you and your child and are excited to support their dental health over their lifetime.

Pediatric Dentistry FAQs

At Palisades Dental Care, we understand that you want to keep your child healthy as much as possible. When your child has a cavity, it can be upsetting. However, our Pediatric Dentist, Dr. Sharlini Sockanathan can help you understand what is happening and how to deal with it.

The leading cause of cavities in Children is the foods that they eat and their poor oral hygiene habits. Parents must supervise their kids when they brush/floss. In addition, it’s important to make sure that your child gets an exam and cleaning every 6 months. This will help prevent cavities.

The foods that are most likely to cause cavities in Children are:

Breakfast cereal
Commercial lemonade/iced tea
Dried fruit
Energy drinks
Fruit juice
Fruit snacks
Hard candy
Soda/fizzy drinks
Sports drinks
Sticky/chewy candy
White bread

Once a cavity is developed, it must be treated by a pediatric dentist, but there are some foods that can help prevent cavities:

Sweet Potatoes

There are some things you can do to reverse the harmful effects of tooth decay:

Change up your child’s diet
Step-up their oral hygiene game
Consider sealants for kids’ teeth
Add fluoride to your routine
Visit the dentist every 6 months for an exam and cleaning

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