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The Truth About Cavities

Did you know your child could have a cavity without even feeling it? Or that some cavities can progress to a point that your child would need a pediatric crown? Cavities are very important to catch early. The best way to do this is to schedule your child for twice yearly cleanings. However, there are several things you need to know during the time in between those appointments, so you can spot a cavity before it becomes painful or difficult to treat.

1. The first myth is that cavities are only caused by excessive sugar. WRONG! Of course, a diet filled with sweets and sodas can lead to cavities, especially if your child isn’t brushing and flossing twice per day, but cavities can just as easily be caused by starches. Starchy foods include chips, pretzels, and breads. Here, the cardinal rule still applies – brush and floss twice a day to avoid these types of foods from building up on teeth and causing cavities.

2. My child will have pain if they have a cavity. NOT ALWAYS! Small cavities have a funny way of making themselves scarce and sometimes, if your child isn’t coming in for their regular cleanings, they can escalate over time. You don’t want to wait until your child has tooth or jaw pain before bringing them in to see us.

3. Snacking a lot produces extra saliva, which washes bacteria that causes cavities away. NOT REALLY! While eating frequent meals will provide a steady stream of saliva, it will not remove all the bacteria in your child’s mouth. The only way to do that is to brush and floss twice daily. However, fruits, vegetables and dairy products are your best options for snacks that can help teeth. As we mentioned earlier, starchy foods and sweets are more likely to cause issues related to developing cavities.

4. I should limit dairy for my child because it isn’t important for their teeth. DAIRY IS VERY IMPORTANT! Calcium, which is present in dairy products is a key factor in strengthening tooth enamel, the outer “shell” of teeth that protects them from harm. Having the appropriate amount of calcium per day is very important. If your child has a lactose intolerance, discuss how you can safely incorporate calcium into their diet with their pediatrician.

5. Babies can’t get cavities, and even if they do, those teeth will fall out. PARTIALLY TRUE, BUT NOT TOTALLY. Yes, babies can get cavities and their primary teeth will fall out, but those cavities if gone untreated, can wreak havoc on their secondary, permanent teeth. We recommend parents take their child to a dentist before age 1 to establish a relationship with their dentist and to learn how to start their toddler off on the right path to good dental health. Cavities that advance in young children can put their teeth in a position to where they will need a pediatric crown or additional dental care.

6. Fillings are dangerous. NOT TRUE! The American Dental Association has deemed silver feelings as safe and there are also composite fillings available to match the color of your child’s teeth. What isn’t safe, is letting bacteria and cavities accumulate in your child’s mouth. This can lead to not only cavities, but abscesses and other complications. Please ask us if you have any questions about the types of fillings you’d like for your child’s teeth.

Pediatric Dental Associates of Alabama is led by top-rated pediatric dentists with locations in Birmingham, Cullman, Medplex-Hoover, Oxford and Pell City. Our vision is to be the premier provider of pediatric dental services in Alabama. Beautiful smiles are our specialty!

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