Five Reasons Your Child Has Cavities


September 20, 2023

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I'm a functional + airway dentist helping mamas get back to the basics for achieving oral and overall health for their families. I'm sharing my best tips and advice for simple, joyful health right here on my blog. It's all in the name of good motherhood.
Hi! I'm Dr. Molly.

Psst… A lack of brushing isn’t the only culprit behind kids’ cavities.

Most dentists are not taking the time to dig deeper into a child’s habits and health history when they find cavities, leaving parents like you scratching their heads and frustrated.

As both a functional dentist and a mother, I understand the importance of uncovering the underlying factors that contribute to cavities. I also understand just how challenging it can be to keep up with the oral health and wellness of all five of my little chicks! For my own family, I want health to be simple and straightforward. In this blog post, I’ll explore five reasons your child might be getting cavities, including the often overlooked factors that go beyond the basics of brushing and flossing.

1. Mouth Breathing: The Silent Culprit

Mouth breathing is more than just a habit; it can significantly impact your child’s oral health. Here’s how:

  • Dry Mouth: Breathing through the mouth can lead to a chronically dry mouth, reducing the protective saliva flow. Saliva plays a crucial role in neutralizing acids and preventing cavities.
  • Altered Oral pH: Mouth breathing can alter the pH balance in the mouth, making it more acidic and conducive to the growth of cavity-causing bacteria.

Holistic Approach: Encourage your child to breathe through their nose, especially during sleep. Address any underlying causes of mouth breathing, such as allergies or nasal congestion, to promote healthier breathing patterns. Nightly nasal rinses should be as common and routine as nightly toothbrushing. Check out my favorite products for nasal breathing here!

2. Processed Foods: The Sugar and Chemical Connection

Processed foods, with their fake ingredients and artificial additives, are a significant contributor to cavities. Here’s why they pose a threat:

  • Sugar Fuel for Bacteria: Sugars in processed foods provide fuel for harmful oral bacteria, leading to the production of acids that erode tooth enamel.
  • Artificial Ingredients: Some processed foods contain chemicals that can disrupt the oral microbiome, further promoting the growth of cavity-causing bacteria.

Holistic Approach: Opt for whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible. Prioritize fresh fruits and vegetables, animal meats, and unprocessed grains (think: sourdough bread!). Limit sugary snacks and beverages, and be mindful of ingredient labels.

3. Tongue Tie: The Often Overlooked Factor

Tongue tie, or ankyloglossia, is a condition where the strip of skin beneath the tongue (the lingual frenulum) is shorter and tighter than usual. This condition can affect oral health in several ways:

  • Impaired Oral Hygiene: A restricted tongue movement can hinder effective brushing and flossing, making it easier for plaque to accumulate.
  • Challenges with Proper Chewing: Tongue tie can affect your child’s ability to chew food thoroughly, potentially leading to incomplete digestion and a higher risk of cavities.

Holistic Approach: If you suspect your child has a tongue tie, consult with a healthcare provider who specializes in the condition. Tongue-ties are treated by a team of dentists, chiropractors, and myofunctional therapists.

4. Nutrient Deficiencies: The Missing Building Blocks

Nutrient deficiencies can compromise your child’s oral health by weakening tooth enamel and gum tissues. Key nutrients include:

  • Calcium: Essential for strong teeth and bones.
  • Vitamin D: Helps the body absorb calcium.
  • Vitamin C: Supports gum health and tissue repair.
  • Vitamin K2: Aids in the proper utilization of calcium in teeth.

Holistic Approach: Ensure your child receives a balanced diet rich in these nutrients. Consider supplements if dietary intake is insufficient, but always consult with a healthcare professional before doing so.

5. Inadequate Oral Hygiene Habits: The Foundation of Health

While we explore these holistic factors, let’s not forget the fundamental importance of proper oral hygiene. Inadequate brushing and flossing habits can contribute to cavities by allowing plaque buildup:

  • Plaque Formation: Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that accumulates on teeth and can lead to decay if not removed.
  • Ineffective Cleaning: Rushed or incomplete brushing and flossing can leave behind pockets of plaque, increasing the risk of cavities.

Holistic Approach: Encourage and educate your child about the importance of consistent oral hygiene. Use non-toxic, fluoride-free toothpaste and a soft-bristle toothbrush. My favorite oral hygiene tools are all right here!

In conclusion, a holistic approach to preventing and managing cavities in children goes beyond routine dental care. Addressing factors such as mouth breathing, processed foods, tongue tie, nutrient deficiencies, and oral hygiene habits can make a significant difference in your child’s oral health for the rest of their life!

Let’s get back to our roots and watch our families bloom. Childhood oral health is underrated, if you ask me. Life without dental appointments to fix cavities is one simple way to improve their childhood.

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