Kids and Dental Health: My Kids Get Cavities No Matter What!

My kids have bad teeth. There, I said it. It’s hard to admit, and it’s hard to deal with, but it’s the truth. I try my best to ensure they eat healthy. We brush their teeth religiously. We started taking them to the dentist for check-ups as soon as each child had teeth. My daughter knows how to floss her teeth and does it nearly every night (nearly, because let’s be real, some nights we all crash before finishing the bedtime routine). The older kids do a fluoride rinse. Yet it seems like each time we go to the dentist, they have a new cavity.

teeth“I swear we brush their teeth!” I tell the dentist at every visit. I wonder if he believes me. I wonder if anyone believes me. The guilt I feel when I hear that one of them has a cavity is crushing. And humiliating. From the condition of their teeth, one would assume we give them gummy bears and soda for breakfast.

During our last filling appointment, I had a heart to heart with the dentist; well, as heart to heart as you can get with your dentist. I explained my frustration to him, and he gave me some encouragement. He said that in general, doing all the “right things” reduces the risk of cavities, but on an individual level, it doesn’t always work that way. He said he has seen children who clearly are not doing the right things, yet have no cavities, and then he’s seen kids like mine who are obviously doing what they should, but still get cavities. It was an ah-ha moment for me. And one that made me want to share my story because I know I’m not the only one out there. I’ve been working even harder to keep my kids teeth healthy, and I’m hoping when we go for our next checkup, they will not have any new cavities!

If your children have “bad teeth” here are some tips to help:

*obviously these tips are helpful for anyone, but especially those of us who struggle to keep our kiddos cavity free!

Brush, brush, brush! If possible, brush after every meal. (This is RARELY possible at my house, but we try). At the very least, have them drink some water after eating to help rinse off anything that may be stuck to the teeth.

Floss. Even if it doesn’t look like they need their teeth flossed, remember to floss. They sell individual floss picks that really help my kids floss their teeth, and it helps me get to the harder to reach back teeth. floss

Have your children use a fluoride rinse. We use Tom’s. We still do not trust the kids with fluoride toothpaste, but they do really well with the rinse. We use it a couple times a week (because again, I’m being real here), but nightly would be best. Xylitol is another substance added to certain toothpastes and rinses that may help reduce tooth decay.

Limit sugar, even fruit. This is our biggest problem. My kids love fruit. They drink smoothies in the morning, and their snacks often include fruit. Just like many of you, we have our own war on vegetables going on in our house, so my kids eating a lot of fruit makes me feel better. But fruit has a lot of sugar, so we should limit how much they get, or at least be sure the kids drink water after eating fruit.

Let go of the guilt. If you are doing the best you can to keep your children’s teeth clean and cavity free, there is no reason to feel bad if they end up with a cavity (or two, or four). It was hard for me to hear that not one, but two of my children needed fillings, but I know I am doing all that I can.

Do you struggle to keep your children’s teeth healthy? Any additional tips for moms like me? 

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Myndee is a 35ish year old New Orleans area native. She's an author, speaker and self-love advocate. As an introverted extrovert, Myndee loves being part of the generation where most of her friends live in her computer. She and her husband, Luis, live just outside the city with their three kids.

14 COMMENTS

  1. Our dentist said more so that sugar, (gummy worms specifically) snacks like goldfish and pretzels can be the worst culprit because sugar will dissolve while a pretzel can stay stuck in the grooves of your back teeth. I had never heard that. I have tried to teach my daughter that she should eat an apple or a carrot stick as the last thing she eats at lunch to clean her teeth a little, but that’s not every day. I wish they didn’t feed them so many goldfish and pretzels at snack time daycare. My child has a mouth full of cavities, sadly. It’s a nightmare.

    • I did hear that about gummy worms, but not much about pretzels- that’s my go-to snack! They do usually get apples and/or cheese with it, but maybe I should skip the pretzels altogether. Sorry about your kiddo, too. Here’s hoping their adult teeth will be better!

  2. it is NOT necesarilly SUGAR’s fault, or your children’s.

    We had the same experience (and my kid was eating the healthiest diet in her class, no chocolate or juice, etc), and what we discovered was that the whole wheat, brown rice and processed foods, were causing problems. sometimes what you think is good, isn’t, and vice versa

    you need to check out Ramiel Nagel’s ‘ Cure Tooth Decay’ book- it was an eye opener for us, and after 2 months on the program we have seen a HUGE difference in our daughter’s teeth

    it is a HUGE adjusment, but if there is no ready reason for why your kids keep having cavities, you may want to check it out!

    • Hi Nicole I wanted to thank you for the book recommendation, and to Myndee for the blog post. Without this we would still be on target for a general anesthesia dental visit to get 2 crowns and several fillings. My little trooper has been choking down cod liver oil and the Blue Ice supplements and her teeth are healing up. We still need to go back for xrays but all of the black spot cavities have disappeared, to the naked eye anyway, and we have a much better outlook!

  3. Another issue that could be causing cavities is slightly crooked teeth. Sometimes, before children have had braces, their teeth are crooked and block them from reaching all areas by brushing and flossing.

  4. Hi, thanks for your post. It made me feel better. We came back from dentist app today knowing my daughter has 3 more cavities. She already has 2 crowns and filling on practically every tooth I do everything I can, yet she keeps having cavities. However, my 3 year old has zero cavities. I need to stop beating up myself. Its the guilt, eating me up. But after reading your post, sounds like I am already doing everything I can. She must have very fragile teeth 🙁

  5. Reading this thread makes me feel so much better! Thank you, ladies. (Not that I’m glad your kids have cavities, of course.) I get so upset sometimes I feel sick to my stomach. My youngest has had cavity prone (read: horrible) teeth since he got them in, practically. A couple of full caps and many, many fillings later, I just found another one tonight pop up seemingly out of the blue, and I’m cringing at the thought of the poor thing going back to the dentist, a place he’s already traumatized by. I do everything I can possibly think of “right”, but to no avail. Thank you for the support and for making me feel like less of a failure!! I’m going to look into that book right away, too!

  6. I’m a dentist in Utah and I’m sure your dentist believed you. We can tell by the teeth. And you know what’s odd? Those religious brushers and meticulous flossers often experience cavities more than those who do the bare minimum oral care. Seems unfair! But there is a reason.

    Each tooth has a little layer of protection called enamel. This is the shield that prevents stains, cavities, etc. One way that we damage our enamel on the daily is by eating and then brushing our teeth immediately after. When you eat a sugary or starchy food, your saliva breaks down the sugars in the food into acids that eat away at your tooth enamel. If you ingest acidic food & drink (such as fruit or juice) the acid acts immediately in eroding enamel.
    So after you eat almost anything, your enamel (the only protection your teeth have) is in a weakened state. If you take a toothbrush to that weak enamel, you’re going to make matters worse. In fact, The Mayo Clinic suggests waiting at least half an hour to brush your teeth after eating anything acidic.
    Instead of brushing those little teeth after every meal, you might see better results by having your kiddos follow each meal with a cup of water (they could even swish and spit) and hold off on brushing for at least 30 minutes.
    That’ll give the enamel a chance to build back up and prepare for a scrub.

    Hope this was helpful! Good luck with those little teeth!

    We just recently posted on our blog about “proper care for baby teeth” with more information like this. You can click my name for the link!

  7. Limiting sugar and getting a toothpaste with fluoride as well as a fluoride rinse really helped my son. He has super sensitive teeth and was getting abscesses frequently. I just switched to a new dentist through my new insurance (Insurance Line One) and he recommended the fluoride which was a life saver! I was visiting the dentist so often and my son had 3 teeth pulled and 10 fillings by 4 years old and on antibiotics quite a few times. I highly recommend moms with kids that even only have a few teeth to start early on taking care of those few little baby teeth to prevent pain in the future!

  8. It’s been a while since you posted this article- I’m very interested to know how old your kids are now and how their teeth are doing. I have 4 kids- 12,9,6,2. My older three all had/have horrible baby teeth but perfect adult teeth. I’m a nutritional therapist- we eat nutrient dense diets and avoid sugar and juice and processed food. The kids have good oral hygiene. And yet, my kids’ baby teeth seem to crumble away! Most interestingly, they don’t have any pain on their teeth or gums, or any signs of infection! Even my just-turned-2 year old has little bits of decay already showing. I’m going through the process of my 6 year old possibly getting all 8 molars covered in steel crowns. Going through this with my kids has been the most frustrating part of my parenting! I’ve left dental offices so angry and upset. I’ve felt that they judge me and assume I’m lying. They won’t listen to me. One of my worst memories at a pediatric dentist where all the kids sit in the same room- the girl next to us was getting inspected (not to be rude but the whole family was overweight so I would assume diet isn’t pristine), and the dentist tells her she has not cavities, then looks at the mom and says, “GOOD JOB, MOM!” Then it’s our turn and my little perfect one has a mouth full of cavities- the dentist makes discouraging remarks to her (after she watched the other girl get praise) and looks at me and says, “what’s happening here? Why does she have these cavities”. Then she wanted to charge me over $10k and treat or pull every single tooth in her mouth. DENTISTS: DO NOT BE THAT DENTIST!!! We never looked back and our family dentist has handled this much more appropriately and for a fraction of the cost.
    I will admit that I’ve been against fluoride and always avoided it. Now I believe that flouride should never be ingested, however it is useful topically. I’ve also incorporated xylitol products. For the baby I plan to have fluoride treatments and some sealing done to try to avoid these issues yet again. I also have started rinsing with water and/or a xylitol and essential oil mouthwash after meals, and limiting snacking (more strictly- since I’ve always done this)…but water rinsing seems to be the best option to avoid too much abrasion on the enamel.

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