Why Does My Child Have Cavities?
You would be amazed of how many times I would hear in the office “Why does my child have cavities? We brush their teeth, and they don’t eat candy.”
Although this argument seems valid, once I began to dig and ask questions I usually could find one of the common culprits. With a young child, it is possible for the child to have Severe Early Childhood Caries (SECC), or better known as baby bottle tooth decay, and still brush their teeth appropriately.
What is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
Baby bottle tooth decay occurs for a few reasons, with the most common being when a baby is put to bed with a bottle that contains milk, juice, or anything acidic or sugary. The same goes for on-demand breastfeeding – I discuss this topic further in my post: “Can Breastfeeding Cause Cavities?”
What are the Other Causes of Cavities?
For your child to have a cavity there must be three events to occur.
- There must exist a host (Tooth)
- Cavity-causing bacteria must be present (Strep Mutans)
- There must be food present for those bacteria to metabolize (Sugar)
If a newborn child were to be placed in a sterile environment and fed sterile sugar all their life, then they would never get a cavity! Today I will elaborate on Strep Mutans or the cavity-causing bacteria.
Where does Cavity Causing Bacteria come from?
Just like a child’s immunity is developed from vaccinations and exposure to common fungus and bacteria, the same applies to a child’s oral flora or natural microbes of the mouth. Thus, the less exposure your infant has to another person’s saliva, the better.
That’s right; it isn’t healthy for a child to share utensils, bottles, pacifiers, or anything that allows a transmission of saliva. Have you ever used your mouth to “disinfect” a spoon or pacifier that has hit the floor? This rule is not only true for parents, but also siblings. The less exposure a toddler has to cavity-causing bacteria; the more likely their mouths will be populated by healthy bacteria and fungus.
Are Cavities Contagious?
Yes! Just like you, or your child, catches a cold, the same goes for cavities (aka caries). As stated above, saliva contains bacteria that could potentially cause cavities. One practice that I would recommend for both expecting and new mothers was to rinse daily microbe-reducing oral rinse and maintain superior oral hygiene.
Hopefully, this information was helpful, and please feel free to leave a comment or question below.
Remember, only brush and floss the teeth you want to keep!