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What is Good Oral Health and What are Cavities?


What is good oral health?


Having a healthy mouth as a child starts even before you are born.  A mother’s mouth health, or oral health, can affect her child’s oral health as well. Once your child is born, there are many important guidelines you must follow to make sure your child has a healthy mouth for life. These include:

  • Brushing their teeth or cleaning their gums if they don’t have teeth yet at least twice a day for 2 minutes

  • Visiting the dentist every 6 months

  • Flossing at least once a day

  • Preventing injuries to teeth

  • Ensuring they have a nutritious diet that is low in sugar

  • Making sure they are taking in enough fluoride if you live in a community that does not add fluoride to the water

By taking these steps you can prevent your child from having an unhealthy mouth, which can lead to many different problems with a child’s health in the future. Taking the steps to make sure your child has a healthy mouth can be simple. On the other hand, not taking good care of your child’s mouth can cause problems and diseases that are very expensive and take a lot of time to fix.



Why does oral health matter?


Good oral health is the basis for good health in the rest of the body. A healthy mouth can help keep away other medical problems and diseases. When you don’t brush or floss your teeth, bacteria grows and builds up which can cause gum disease, heart disease, early birth if you are pregnant, and even diabetes. If your child does not have good oral health than they may start to get cavities which can cause them to lose teeth as well as cause many other problems.  It is important to form good dental health habits in children starting at birth, in order to set them up for good oral health in the future. A child with good oral health is much more likely to have good oral health as an adult.



What are cavities?

Dental caries also called cavities or tooth decay occur when the outer surfaces of the teeth break down.  If your dentist talks about tooth decay, they are also talking about cavities which are the same as caries.  These are all just different words for the same thing.  Dental caries begin with plaque. Plaque is a layer of bacteria, water, and protein that grows on your gums and teeth. You can’t see plaque when you look at your teeth, but it is there. When you eat and drink sugar, the bacteria in the plaque on your teeth eats the sugar and turns it into acid. This acid is bad for your teeth and breaks down the hard layer on your teeth called enamel, causing tiny holes to form. These are called caries or cavities.


For more information:

Go to the Healthy Mouth, Healthy Kids health topic.