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  • Writer's pictureGreater Houston Pediatric Dentistry

Why Does My Child Have So Many Cavities?

Does your child brush their teeth regularly and you are still surprised each dental visit by finding they have several cavities? You may be surprised to learn that whether or not a child will get cavities depends on much more than simply whether the child brushes frequently or eats lots of candy. Sweet treats like candy are one of the biggest causes of cavities, but they are not the only cavity-causing criminals out there!



child with mouth open showing dental cavities

What Causes Cavities?

A cavity is a hole in a tooth that develops from tooth decay. Cavities form when acids in your mouth wear down your tooth’s hard outer layer. 


Here’s how it works:

  • Bacteria in your mouth feed on sugary, starchy foods and drinks (fruit, candy, bread, cereal, sodas, juice and milk). The bacteria convert these carbohydrates into acids.

  • Bacteria, acid, food and saliva mix to form dental plaque. This sticky substance coats your teeth.

  • Without proper brushing and flossing, acids in plaque dissolve tooth enamel, creating cavities, or holes, in the enamel surface.

Many Factors, Many Cavities

There are many reasons why your child may be prone to develop dental cavities. Many factors work together to create the environment for bacteria to develop cavities. All that caries need to form are the right combination of factors and time. Here are a few of the most common factors that may be leading to your child’s cavities. 


Tooth Structure: Enamel Quality

1 in 6 children are affected with weaker enamel due to a thinner outer layer of the tooth. Many times this condition is discovered when the baby's teeth fall out. It can appear as white and yellow-brown spots on molars and incisors. The weaker material is more susceptible to tooth decay.


Tooth Crowding

When a person’s teeth are crowded or overlapping, they are naturally harder to clean and more likely to trap food in tough-to-reach spaces. This also creates perfect hiding spots and breeding grounds for bacterial colonies to flourish and cause caries.


Bacterial Transmission

Bacterial imbalance is a leading cause of caries in child’s teeth. Sharing drinks or utensils could be passing bacteria from one person to another and this can cause bacterial imbalance. 


Saliva Quality & Quantity

Naturally, saliva becomes more fluid and increases when you are hungry or eating, and decreases and becomes thicker while we are asleep. That is one of the reasons why dental professionals discourage bedtime feedings, and strongly encourage regular brushing and flossing before going to bed.


Dietary Habits - Watch Their Diet!

It’s not just sugary candy to watch out for. Bacteria use not only sugars but basically any fermentable carbohydrates and break it down into acids that can damage tooth surfaces. This includes juices, chocolate milk, chips, crackers, cereals, granola bars, raisins, and, of course, candy.


Children's Medication

This is also a contributing factor. Many children’s mediations are loaded with sugar to give them an appealing taste. When these medications are taken multiple times throughout the day, they become a steady source of sugar to feed bacteria. Gummy vitamins are particularly bad for children’s teeth as the sticky substance can hold on to the teeth longer. 


Oral Hygiene Habits

Dental plaque is a harbor for bacteria. As we brush and floss our teeth we disturb that biofilm and decrease the number of bacteria adhering to the teeth surface—ultimately creating an inhospitable environment for bacterial colonies and reducing the damage their byproducts can inflict on tooth surfaces.


Good News

The good news is that cavity problems can be addressed and fixed. Trust the professionals at Greater Houton Pediatric Dentistry to help access your child’s dental health and help reach your healthy smile goals. Dr. Luu and her team are ready to serve you, schedule an appointment today. 

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