Why Do My Children Keep Getting Decay?

I am at my wit’s end. I do everything for my children possible, including taking care of their teeth. We brush twice, sometimes three times a day. We floss. I take them to the dentist every year. I also limit their sugar and still they are getting cavities. I want them to grow up with healthy teeth and do not know what I am doing wrong. At our last appointment, my four year old had four new cavities and my seven year old had two new cavities. What can I do differently?


Dear Libby,

young mother, holding and giggling with two children

It sounds like you are a loving and conscientious mother. That is fantastic and will only benefit your children. You have checked off some important items in caring for your childrens teeth. These include regularly brushing and flossing. You mentioned that you take them to the dentist every year. If at all possible, I would increase that to twice a year. Dental plans generally give you two full cleanings a year.

One thing you did not mention was the duration of their eating. Do they snack a lot or drink lots of juices? Believe it or not duration of eating, not what you eat, is one of the leading factors of tooth decay.

Our saliva contains bacteria fighting minerals, but it can’t properly do its job if they are frequent snackers. While limiting sugars can be helpful, it would be better to have a sugary snack once in a while than to have pasta or snacks a few times throughout the day. Most people are not aware that pasta and other carbohydrates break down into sugar. Many foods do, in fact.

Brushing constantly won’t even help. However, they only prevent decay on smooth surfaces. All those pits and fissures in your children’s back teeth are at a much greater risk of decay. If you have a good pediatric dentist, then they should have recommended you get sealing done on your children’s back teeth. This is a liquid that is “painted” over your children’s back teeth, the ones with all those pits. This dries then seals them up so that food and other debris cannot get trapped there. This should be done after a thorough cleaning by the dentist so that the teeth are healthy and clean when they are sealed.

They should also be getting regular fluoride treatements, which will help strengthen their teeth. We are fortunate to live in a country that fluorinates the water. However, that extra bit at the dentist makes a difference.

You are doing a great job, mamma. Check their snacking frequency and give yourself some grace.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentist Drs. Foreman and Thimmesch.