It is very common for a children's dentistry professional to find a cavity during an examination. If the dentist or hygienist discovers many cavities, however, it may mean that there is an underlying cause unrelated to your child's oral hygiene practices. To determine if there is an underlying cause for your child's multiple cavities, the dentist may take a detailed medical history from you. Here are some things your child's dentist may discuss with you during the oral medical history questioning.
Your child's medical history may include questions about their medications. Both prescription and over-the-counter medications can cause side effects that can raise the risk for dental decay. For example, if your child takes certain allergy medications to manage their watery eyes, sneezing, itching, and scratchy throat, they may develop a dry mouth.
When the mouth becomes dry as a result of medications or health conditions such as autoimmune diseases, cavity-causing bacteria may multiply inside the oral cavity and raise the risk for dental decay. This happens when there is not enough saliva inside the mouth to rinse away microorganisms. Other medications that can cause dry mouth include anti-seizure medications, psychotropic medications, and certain heart medications.
Certain health conditions may also predispose your child to cavities and gum disease. For example, children who have gastroesophageal reflux disease, also called GERD, may be at risk of developing acid erosion. This condition refers to when the dental enamel wears away or becomes weak and thin. It is often the result of consuming acidic foods and drinks, however, it can also occur in children whose stomach acid rises into their oral cavity as a result of reflux disease.
Stomach acid can severely compromise tooth enamel, and when this occurs, bacteria can get through the weakened barrier and destroy the pulp. Certain autoimmune disorders can also increase the risk of cavities. These disorders include hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and Sjögren's syndrome. The latter autoimmune disease causes both tear and salivary gland dysfunction. People with Sjögren's syndrome do not produce enough saliva to wash away germs and people with thyroid diseases may experience an overabundance of plaque and tartar both on the teeth and under the gumline.
If your child takes medication on a regular basis or has one of the above health conditions, schedule regular dental appointments for them. When dental problems are discovered and treated in their early stages, complications such as dental decay, infections, gum disease, and tooth loss may be less likely to occur.
Reach out to a children's dentistry clinic to learn more.