Kid having pain in teeth due to cavity
“My child brushes and flosses their teeth every day, how could they possibly have cavities?” It can come as a big – and unwelcome – surprise when you find out your child has a cavity in spite of their diligent oral hygiene routine. And, yup, brushing and flossing and regular preventative dental care are the most well-known ways to keep kids’ teeth and gums healthy.
But, nutrition is an unsung hero. What and how often kids eat directly impacts their oral health. And, when kids are deficient in certain key vitamins and minerals, it can also result in issues, ranging from an increased risk of tooth decay to bleeding gums.
In this post, our pediatric dentists will talk about nutrition for healthy teeth and gums, as well as the vitamins and minerals needed to support children’s oral health.
Diet and Oral Health
Foods that cause cavities
While genetics, medications, and other factors can make children more prone to oral health issues, when tooth decay isn’t the result of a lack of brushing and flossing, it often boils down to what kids are eating.
Even some seemingly healthy(ish) foods — we’re looking at you, crackers – are notorious cavity causers. This is because the two factors behind tooth decay are carbohydrates and time. When kids drink or eat something with sugar or starches in it, the bacteria in the mouth feed on the carbohydrates and release acids that erode the enamel.
The acid attacks last for about 30 minutes after eating or drinking. Then, saliva swoops in and saves the days by neutralizing the acids and depositing the lost minerals back into the teeth.
So, as long as kids have sugars and simple carbohydrates in moderation and regularly remove food debris and plaque from their teeth, they can avoid tooth decay and keep their enamel strong.
However, there is also a time component. The longer the carbohydrates sit on the teeth, the longer the acid attacks go on. Saliva isn’t able to remineralize the teeth enough to balance out the mineral loss, leading to tooth decay and, eventually, cavities.
Foods that get stuck in the teeth like gummy candy, crackers, white bread, and dried fruit, prolong the acid attacks and are more likely to contribute to tooth decay than things that rinse off the teeth easily like ice cream or yogurt, though they also contain sugar.
Slowly snacking or sipping on a drink over a long period of time makes the acid attacks go on and on as well, increasing the risk of cavities.
Also, read / Dental Sedation For Kids.