As much as we try to make sure that our kids are brushing their teeth after every meal, once they are old enough to brush all by themselves, it is difficult to monitor if they are brushing their teeth correctly and reaching all the teeth in their mouth. Cavities can occur in any child’s teeth, even if you limit sugar, make sure they are brushing and flossing, and keeping up on healthy oral habits.
When the very first cavity sets in, your child may not know how to communicate to you that they have a cavity or that something is wrong with their mouth. However, there are some signs to look for that will key you into what is going on so you can make the call to the dentist. If your child complains of their mouth hurting or stinging when they drink cold beverages or eat sweet foods, there is a good chance they have a cavity. You can also check your child’s teeth to see if white and/or brown spots are appearing on their teeth. Sometimes, a cavity can start forming with no physical symptoms, so checking over your child’s mouth occasionally will help you to catch the visual symptoms fast.
Normally, unless you are experiencing a dental emergency such as a broken tooth or mouth infection, it may be a few days before there is an open appointment available at your dentist office. While you are waiting for the appointment, there are a few things you can do to make your child more comfortable.
- Mix a few drops of clove oil with ¼ teaspoon of sesame seed oil. Use a cotton ball to apply the mixture to the tooth that is affected. Clove oil is known for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.
- Help your child gargle warm salt water twice daily. Salt is known to draw out infections and bacteria and can also reduce pain and inflammation.
- Use warm water for brushing teeth since cold water can cause sharp pain and sensitivity.
- Avoid sugary and acidic foods.
Once you can get into the dentist, your child will most likely get a fluoride treatment and have the infection part of the tooth removed which will then be filled in or capped depending on the severity of the cavity. To prevent cavities from forming in the future follow these simple preventative measures:
- Prepare meals that are low in carbohydrates, sugars, and other sweets
- Monitor their brushing habits and if they are over two years old, teach them how to floss daily.
- If you live in an area where fluoride is not added to the water supply, consult with you dentist about options for fluoride supplements.
- Keep up on your child’s twice yearly cleanings at the dentist office and opt for your child to get the fluoride treatment.
- Be a good role model. Brushing your teeth at the same time as your child, especially while they are young will encourage them to hold onto good habits later in life.