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She Has Your Cavities: Why Parents Have Kids with Cavities

By Shelby Tatomir on February 19, 2019 in Kid's Health


We love it when our child has our eyes or our partner’s dimples. But, as we all know, children don’t just inherit our good traits. They can take on our habits, too, like poor dental hygiene practices. Parents with anxiety or fear of the dentist are more likely to have kids with cavities. As a parent, if fear of the dentist keeps you away from regular cleanings, review our resources for overcoming a fear of the dentist. Kids with untreated cavities can experience harmful effects from their smile health for a lifetime to come. Stop cavities and a fear of the dentist in your children:

Parents with a Fear of the Dentist Have Children with Untreated Cavities

Your dental anxiety is not uncommon, but it has many consequences. It negatively impacts more than just your own dental health. Parents with a fear of the dentist are more likely to have kids with cavities.

A parent’s impact on their child’s dental health doesn’t end there. Parents or guardians can spread their existing cavities from their own mouth to the child’s mouth. This is done through everyday interactions like cleaning a binky or pacifier off in your mouth, sharing a spoon, or kissing a baby on the mouth.

Cavities Come from Bad Habits + Mouth Contact

One study examined if young children had been infected with a strain of bacteria involved in the process of tooth decay.

Their results:

  • 30% of the three-month-olds
  • 60% of the six-month-olds
  • and 80% of the two-year-olds had the bacteria present that leads to tooth decay.

The researchers concluded that they felt the bacteria was passed to children from their parents or guardians through kissing or sharing items. “Unlike other infectious diseases, tooth decay is not self-limiting. Decayed teeth require professional treatment to remove the infection and restore tooth function,” the study wrote.

Dental cavities occur when damage from decay creates a hole in the tooth. Tooth decay happens when plaque and bacteria get the opportunity to eat away teeth. They get this opportunity when there’s no brushing, flossing, or regular dentist visits. If you and your child haven’t seen the dentist in the past six months, it’s critical to both your overall and dental health to make an appointment today.

More Influences on Children’s Development of Cavities:

  • Parental smoking
  • Siblings with cavities
  • Drinking sugary drinks between meals

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends avoiding the following activities as they are cavity-promoting behaviors:

  • Letting infants sleep with anything but water in their bottle.
  • Letting kids drink milk or other liquid fermentable carbohydrates* from a bottle or sippy cup for an extended period of time.
  • Continuing to bottle feed after 12-14 months of age.
  • Between-meal snacks that are overly sweet.

* Fermentable carbohydrates are in anything sweetened with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or another sugar variant. Fermentable carbohydrates are worse for your mouth than regular carbohydrates because they break down into simple sugars in the mouth, rather than the digestive tract.

If you take your children to the dentist at least twice a year, you’re doing great. If taking your child to the dentist is more difficult because of your personal dental fear or anxiety about the dentist, consider asking a friend or relative to take your child for you!

Remember that the earlier a child visits the dentists, the better. Children should see the dentist by the age of one. For more information on children’s dental health and avoiding untreated cavities, visit our blog:

Looking for a new dentist? Click here to find an in-network provider in your area.