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How Early Can Kids Develop Cavities?

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Your child’s teeth coming in is one of many exciting milestones they’ll experience as they grow up. Having teeth will help them chew food, speak, and show off a smile that is uniquely theirs. However, having teeth also means they can develop cavities. At Apple Tree Pediatric Dentistry in Lawrenceville, GA, our pediatric dentists, Dr. Jeni Kong and Dr. Sandra Oh, specialize in keeping your child’s teeth healthy from a young age. We can also help find any issues, like cavities, that may develop to keep them from becoming worse.

How early can kids develop cavities?

Most babies develop teeth between 6 and 12 months, but it can happen as early as three months. As soon as that first tooth pokes through, they are at risk of developing cavities. In fact, not only can children’s teeth develop cavities, but they are more likely to do so compared to adult (or permanent) teeth.

What causes cavities in children’s teeth?

Cavities in children are caused by the same things as adult teeth – sugar and bacteria in the mouth. A certain kind of bacteria in the mouth converts sugar from food and drinks (including breastmilk) into an acid that can damage the hard outer layer of the teeth (called the enamel).

This acid stays on their teeth unless it’s removed, such as by brushing or with saliva. When your child is sleeping, however, saliva flow slows down, giving bacteria more time to change sugar into this harmful acid.

Enamel is thinner in baby teeth compared to adult teeth. As a result, children are more likely to develop cavities.

When should my child start brushing their teeth?

As soon as your child has their first tooth, it’s time to start brushing their teeth. This should be done twice a day, using toothpaste with fluoride. If your child is younger than three years old, use toothpaste roughly the size of a grain of rice. After age three, you can use a pea-sized amount.

Until your child is old enough to manage to brush their teeth effectively on their own, it’s important you help them brush and floss their teeth to ensure their teeth remain healthy between visits to the dentist.

When should my child get their teeth cleaned by a pediatric dentist?

Just like adults, children should have a professional dental cleaning by a dentist two times a year. Babies with teeth should also visit the dentist before they turn a year old. At this visit, we can help determine when their next visit should be.

Regular professional cleanings can help keep your child’s teeth healthy and remove built-up plaque and bacteria from their teeth. This can help avoid cavities down the line. Cleanings also remove stains and tartar from their teeth, helping to keep their teeth looking healthy and clean.

How do pediatric dentists clean your child’s teeth?

At our office in Lawrenceville, GA, professional cleaning involves using special instruments to remove tartar and plaque buildup without harming the outer layer (the enamel). In some cases, we may use an ultrasonic instrument (which combines a fine water mist with sonic vibrations) to remove more debris from your child’s teeth. We’ll also use hand instruments to access smaller areas of buildup.

Finally, we’ll polish your child’s teeth, carefully removing surface stains and creating a smooth finish. In most cases, we’ll also use a professional fluoride treatment at the end of the appointment to help protect your child’s teeth against cavities.

Help your child avoid cavities with a professional dental cleaning in Lawrenceville, GA

At our office in Lawrenceville, GA, Dr. Jeni Kong and Dr. Sandra Oh are committed to helping their patients avoid cavities by encouraging healthy practices at home and through regular professional cleanings. Schedule a visit today to help keep your child’s smile shining and prevent cavities.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.