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baby boy sitting in bathroom and trying to brush teeth.


Tooth decay is an oral disease that affects many children. While you may initially think that cavities in baby teeth are not a long-term issue, your child’s baby teeth are critical to maintaining a lifetime of good health. Even with regular brushing and flossing, your child’s diet can have a significant impact on their oral health because a diet that is high in sugar and refined carbohydrates can lead to a higher risk of developing tooth decay.


Let’s take a look at the most common causes of cavities in toddlers and some helpful tips you can use to prevent cavities from forming in baby teeth.


Poor Nutrition

A child’s diet can be easily made up of foods that increase the risk of tooth decay. Many of the foods and drinks that kids love can be damaging to their teeth, and certain foods directly increase their risk of developing cavities.


Starchy Foods

The types of foods you probably have the most success with in getting your little one to eat a full meal are typically starchy foods. Kids favorites including bread, pasta, crackers, chips, and cookies are all usually high in refined carbohydrates which the body breaks down into sugar. Starchy foods often become stuck on the groovy surfaces of the teeth, increasing the risk of cavities.


Fruit Juices

Kids love juice because of its sweet nature, and many parents believe that giving a child juice is a healthier alternative to soda, but juice contains a lot of tooth-damaging sugar. Adding water to juice does not reduce its sugar content, and these sugars can become an even greater threat if your child is sipping on them throughout the day instead of drinking water to stay hydrated.


Carbonated Beverages

Drinks that contain carbonation and phosphorus such as sodas can weaken tooth enamel, increasing the risk of cavities. Many carbonated beverages are also loaded with added sugars.


Fruit Snacks

These sticky, sweet snacks cling onto and in between the teeth and lead to bacteria that damage the enamel. Even if they are made with real fruit juice, fruit snacks are far from a healthy snack option.


Sweets and Sugars

When it comes to candy and sweets, knowing which treats are the best case for your teeth will help make decisions easier as a parent. Sticky candies that get stuck to the teeth and aren’t easy to brush away should be avoided, as with lollipops that stay in the mouth for an extended period giving teeth a sugar bath. A great rule-of-thumb with candy is if it melts in your mouth quickly, it doesn’t cling to the teeth as much.


Poor Oral Hygiene

A crucial way to help limit cavities in kids is to diligently brush and floss, which physically pushes bacteria, plaque, and sugar off the teeth. Fluoride is an essential part of dental health because it not only restores calcium to decaying teeth, but it also limits the production of corrosive acid.


Skipping Regular Dental Checkups

Your child should see a dentist by their first birthday, according to recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Association (AAPD). If you wait until your child is older for their first dental exam, statistically, about 40% of 2-5 year-olds already have cavities that could have been prevented with at-home care and regular dental exams and cleanings.


Worried that your little one will never sit still long enough to open their mouth for a dental exam? We have a few tricks up our sleeves for these quick first visits. A dentist can easily spot the telltale plaque buildup along the top gum line that is a sign of mutants, and he can also do a culture to measure bacteria levels in your child’s mouth to help give any indication of cavities or tooth decay.


Working with Tompkins Dental will lead to good dental health for your children. Call today to schedule an appointment with our toddler experts.


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