Explaining cavities, cavity prevention to children

  • Published
  • By Holly Reid
  • 1st Special Operations Dental Squadron
Has a child ever seen a silver filling in the back of your mouth and asked, "What is that?"

Have you wracked your brain searching for the right words to explain what a cavity is?

I would like to offer a simple way in which you can explain to a child in your life how a cavity is formed and how to avoid them.

When we eat or drink a lot of sugar, tiny "sugar bugs" are formed.

The more sugar you eat, the more sugar bugs you have in your mouth, and teeth are their favorite food.

We can protect our teeth by fighting them with a toothbrush.

We can fight "sugar bugs" by brushing our teeth twice a day for two minutes and by flossing every day. If we don't, the "sugar bugs" will make a small hole in our tooth, which is called a cavity.

Food choices affect your oral hygiene. Bacteria like to eat the sugars found in candy, cookies and soda. Eating and drinking these things will attract more cavities. Sticky sweets such as caramel and toffee are even worse for oral health because they are difficult to remove from teeth.

Teaching children about healthy snack choices like vegetables, fruit and whole grains, and encouraging them to make good choices will benefit their oral hygiene.

The dentist's office should be a friendly place where children feel comfortable visiting. If the dentist is a fun place to go, fear and anxiety over dental work will not follow them into adulthood. Regular professional cleanings are a normal part of oral hygiene, and the dentist and his helpers help fight cavities.