It is common for parents to experience a range of different emotions when they learn that their child has cavities. If your child is experiencing early childhood tooth decay, you may be in disbelief that your young child could have cavities or anger that your child will have to undergo dental procedures more complex than a routine cleaning. Another common reaction is guilt, wondering if the cavities were caused by something you did or if you could have prevented them.
However, it is common for children to get cavities during their childhood and strong negative reactions are not necessary. Here are some ways that you can overcome your emotional reaction to your child's cavities and help improve their oral health.
Realize You Are Not Alone
By age five, around 60% of American children will have had or currently have cavities. Even as young as age three, 5-10% of children have oral health issues. While it might not be a commonly discussed issue, possibly due to embarrassment and guilt, you may know other parents who have experienced or are currently experience the same problems that you are experiencing.
Parents are often taught that preventing cavities is a simple matter of brushing and flossing regularly and scheduling checkups with a dentist. However, for many children, cavities are more complicated. The situation that makes your child susceptible to cavities can start before conception. If a mother does not consume enough of certain nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D, a child can be born with weak enamel. If your child has weak enamel, then it is likely that they will have some cavities in their baby teeth.
After birth, parents can spread the bacteria that causes cavities to their children by sharing utensils, using spit to clean a baby's pacifier, or giving kisses to the baby on the mouth. By controlling the amount of cavity causing bacteria in your own mouth and by limiting the amount of contact your child has with your saliva you can reduce the spread of these harmful bacteria.
Finally, dietary choices beyond sugar play a role in your child's oral health. It is also important to make sure your child gets plenty of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D and vitamin C while limiting the amount of whole grains your child eats.
Understanding the possible causes of tooth decay can help move forward and protect your child's teeth in the future.
Make a Treatment Plan
One of the most helpful ways to get over guilt is to actively make a plan to correct the situation. This involves working with your dentist to create a treatment plan for your child's cavities. You should ask about your options for both restorative and preventive care. Most restorative treatments can be done in a dental office over a few visits. However, if your child has several cavities or teeth that need to be extracted, they may suggest general anesthesia at a local hospital for the procedure. This allows your dentist to finish all of the work at one time without putting your child through a large amount of discomfort.
A treatment plan should also involve making necessary dietary and home-care changes in order to slow the progress of cavities. This can include topical treatments, extra brushing, and more powerful home dental tools. However, you should keep in mind that if your child has weak enamel, they may continue to get cavities despite your best level of home care.
If you have a child with cavities, it is normal to experience guilt. However, it is important that you move past your guilt into an active plan for preventing further decay. Learn more by contacting services like Hoffman & Karl Dental Associates, PLLC.