What causes cavities?
When children are born, they do not have the bacteria that cause cavities. However, the bacteria can be transmitted from you or a caregiver to your baby. Cavities form when there is interaction between the bacteria, sugar, and a tooth surface. The bacteria break down sugar from food particles left around teeth to produce acid, which eventually breaks down the tooth enamel to form a cavity.
- Sugar – Frequent snacking on foods with added sugar found in many processed foods, beverages and snacks.
Recommendation: Limit sweets such as cookies, candy, cake and sugary drinks like soda and fruit-flavored drinks between meals.
- Bacteria – Cavity-causing bacteria can be easily transmitted from you or a caregiver to your baby.
Recommendation: Do not share utensils to avoid transmission of the bacteria.
- Tooth – Plaque (bacteria and food particles) forms a sticky coat on the tooth surface.
Recommendation: Brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and floss daily to reduce plaque. Ask your pediatric dentist to assess risk for tooth decay. Discuss brushing, flossing and appropriate time to place sealants on the grooves of the molars to protect them.
The good news
Take good care of your teeth and your baby’s teeth and cavities can be prevented. Good dental habits including brushing, flossing, avoiding sugary snacks, and regular visits to the dentist can be established early in life leading to a lifetime of great dental health.
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