First off Dr. Hall your site is amazing and has been extremely informative.
This question is about my children. They are 6 and 4 and I brush their teeth morning & night, along with flossing nightly, and taking fluoride. Our 6 year old has had 4 cavities, while our 4 year old has had 11 🙁 Both children’s diets maintain very little sugar. Is the frequency of cavities a prelude to what is to come with their adult teeth? I am hoping not, I want so badly for my children to have beautiful healthy teeth. Is there any more that I could be doing to help them out?
– Kerri from California
Sounds like you’re trying to be very diligent with caring for the teeth of your children.
1. The number one risk factor is frequency of eating carbohydrates. It’s not just sugar. Carbohydrates are changed into sugar by salivary enzymes, so any carbohydrate can cause decay. And it’s not the amount, it’s the frequency. If they’re snacking all day long, you’re going to get lots of decay, and brushing the living daylights out of your teeth won’t stop it.
2. Brushing and flossing help a lot, but they only help prevent smooth surface decay. They have practically no effect on pit and fissure decay, or decay in protected areas. So a prevention routine of brushing and flossing will reduce the number of cavities, but can’t eliminate decay.
3. A lack of fluoride makes teeth more susceptible to decay.
4. Watch the types of food consumed. Sticky foods that stay stuck to teeth after eating, such as raisins, potato chips, caramels, are particularly bad. Non-sticky foods such as fresh fruits, chocolate, soups, any drinks, are better. But if any food is consumed often enough, it’s just the same as if it were sticky. Sugar-containing soft drinks, when consumed just at mealtime, have practically no effect on tooth decay no matter how much you drink. Sipped constantly throughout the day, however, they can cause rampant decay.
I hope this is helpful.
– Dr. Hall
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