Cavities, Cavities, Cavities!

Updated on February 27, 2013
A.L. asks from Portland, ME
13 answers

My daughter is 6 years old and has multiple cavities with each trip we make to the dentist! She has already had 2 teeth pulled; 4 fillings and needs to have 3 more. We brush twice a day, floss and fluoride rinse at bedtime; she mostly drinks milk and orange juice (she's not a big water drinker, but we also don't buy soda or other sugary drinks). She doesn't eat sweets excessively either--obviously she enjoys them (she's a kid!), but I don't buy them often and we reserve them for special occasions or as an occasional treat. I am feeling so discouraged--she's had sealant applied to her baby teeth, and she has an appointment for the end of this month for fillings and more sealant. I'm feeling as though she is doomed to a lifetime of bad teeth! As a side note, my 13 year old son has never had a cavity and I wasn't nearly as vigilant with his teeth as I am with hers! Any words of advice or support would be appreciated!

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So What Happened?

Thanks so much to everyone for all of the responses--it's so reassuring to know that you're not the only one that is going through this! I do feel like I'm doing all I can in terms of preventative care--we've tried having her brush after lunch at school, which hasn't worked due to a lack of time at lunch, and her not remembering to do so. She only drinks milk and calcium-fortified OJ at meals--I constantly encourage water inbetween, but she just doesn't really like it and never says that she's thirsty (although she does usually drink a big cup after we floss at night). Once she has rinsed that is it for the night--nothing else to eat or drink, just off to bed : ) I am going to look into the recommended toothpaste and mouthwash, and maybe that will help. For now, we will just bide our time until her next appointment and take things as they come. Fortunately, our pediatric dentist offers sedation, which makes me feel much better--she just doesn't do well with even a simple cleaning (she won't even put an electric toothbrush near her mouth, as we've tried that in the past also!). Thanks again!

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answers from Boston on

Some of it is just the luck of the draw and genetics. My mom and I had a mouthful of metal and fillings; my dad had pristine teeth with his first cavity in college; my siblings had a combination of the two. My mom and I brushed diligently, my dad once a day. Some people just have thicker, more resilient enamel than others.

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answers from Springfield on

Hi A.,

Ask your pediatric dentist about nightly Gel-kam application. It's a flouride toothpaste that you can apply topically to her teeth after brushing and before sleep each night. You leave it on without rinsing and comes in a strawberry flavor that is mild. It hardens the teeth and stops further deterioration of any cavities. Since he was 18-months old, we have taken our 3-year old who had numerous cavities to the Boston Children's Hospital dentistry unit and they said this is the latest technique for children, rather than "drill and fill" which everyone else was suggesting. At the time, we would have had to put our son to sleep under general anesthesia to get that work done, so we were relieved to find another approach. Gelkam is available at most pharmacies. It is over the counter but you usually need to ask the pharmacist for it from behind their counter. We apply a tiny amount, about a fourth of a pea or less to all his teeth and it has been a miracle. It does stain his teeth somewhat--but it is worth it.

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answers from Boston on

My friend's daughter had horrendous problems like this (going up thru her teen years), and she resolved them by adding a nutritional supplement that helps support the immune system and promote healthy tissues/organs throughout the body. It is balanced and highly absorbable, and it restores the balance in the mouth as well as other parts of the body. I have had phenomenal check-ups as an adult in the past year since I've been doing this too, and several of my friends have had the same experience - no more bleeding during cleanings, no more gingivitis, and so on. You could try the same thing. Let me know if you want more info.



answers from Providence on

I agree with Monica. Sometimes, no matter what you do, cavities pop up. Using myself as an example, I brush and floss and see the dentist every six months. Yet, I have two crowns and one root canal. Hubby, on the other hand, brushes once a day. I've never seen him floss and he has had one cavity his whole life. Enamel thickness is genetic. My father was told he had soft teeth and so do I. Luckily, the kids have his choppers, not mine! Continue to be vigilant with her dental care and ask her dentist for more preventative ideas.



answers from Boston on


I had cavities in every one of my baby teeth. I remember what it was like to go to the dentist so often. As an adult though I only have cavities in my molars. Yes, that is still a lot but I haven't had any pulled for it. I did get the sealant after I was 35 and that has helped but not as a child. I would keep up with it and maybe add in flossing. You can buy the little plastic sticks with the floss between 2 points. I would teach your daughter how to do it and watch her so she does it correctly. Maybe you do it together so she understands you will both being doing it and she doesn't feel she is being punished. You can also add in brushing after every meal. You can go to the store and buy a new tooth brush and make a big deal out of it so she thinks this is a fun thing and wants to do it and not a fight.

Good luck,
L. M



answers from Los Angeles on

I have seen images on the internet (forgot where). They said children's cavities can heal if you feed them right. I would replace milk (do you know what they put in "milk" these days?) with at least organic milk, and, if you can afford, replace milk altogether with raw milk. Drop the orange juice for now.


answers from Hartford on

My daughter has the same problem. Some kids just have issues. I got caps on my daughters molars and make sure they take fluride if your water does not have any in it. I also got prescription toothpaste!!




answers from Houston on

OJ is sugary, but sometimes that's not even the problem. It's just her teeth! You might find that other relatives have the same problem-maybe the natural thickness of her enamel...Ask her dentist if there's something he can give you guys to help. When I had braces I was given straight flouride to use to prevent cavities. Maybe this is something you need to use (while supervising her). Also, increase brushing to everytime she eats or drinks. On a side note milk might have hormones but it has lots of calcium for her! Don't stop the milk. "Organic" items aren't even regulated so there's no way to say it's different from what you're getting anyway.

Good luck and you're doing a great job trying to take care of her!



answers from Boston on

Don't feel too bad; my 5 1/2 y-o daughter is the same. Every time we go: another cavity. I felt terrible, like I was the worst mother in the world. I feel most badly for her because we talk constantly about how brushing and flossing and avoiding sweets/juice are good for her teeth, then BLAM--another cavity. She is getting no payoff from all her efforts. Our neighbor's son is the same--they are psyched when he comes home from a cleaning with "only one cavity this time!" It is genetic. That said, continue to do what you are doing. We also got prescription fluoride that we brush on her teeth every night before bed. Good luck! :)



answers from New York on

So happy to see this I am going through the same thing my 9 year old son has never had a cavity n I fight with him to brush his teeth. My 6 year old daughter brushes regularly and eats healthy n has had 2 root canals and 3 filings smh happy to see I'm not alone. Just wish I could help her any suggestions



answers from Boston on

Hi A.,
Everyone's teeth are different, so this is not unheard of.
Things that might help are limiting milk and o.j. to drinking at the table at meals, from a regular cup or through a full straw. Afterwards she can rinse with water. Both milk and orange juice have lots of sugar and it's best not to be sipping them in the cup or around the house throughout the day, redeposting a layer of sugar. (I'm not saying she is, but just in case.) Also, wait 20 minutes or so after she eats before she brushes. O.J. is acidic and softens the enamel for a short time. For in between meals, leave water as the only choice. Hopefully your local water is flouridated. Bottled water and filtered water are usually not. Best of luck!



answers from Boston on

A., Hi! I am a dentist and mother of a 3 yr old,2 yr.old and 8 month old (all girls). I would have to say w/o seeing your daughter that it is usually 2 things that cause decay, diet and not brushing adequately or long enough. I would not give your daughter anything but water to drink in between meals (or sugar-free drinks, like crystal light) and get a cheap (~ 5-10$) electric child tooth brush to brush her teeth w/ for at least 2 minutes at least 2x daily. You should brush, not her. Fl rinse is great before bed time, make sure she isn't eating or drinking anything afterwards or it will not be effective. Good Luck! Kathy



answers from Portland on

A., my daughter had extensive work done on her baby teeth as well. We were shocked because she rarely drank juice, never had a bottle and had very little sweets. After getting no answers of why this happened from the dentist who did all the work (teeth pulled, crowns, fillings...)we switched to another pediatric dentist and he gave us a prescription mouthwash that we were to swab on her teeth for one week, then again in three months. After 6 months she went for her check up and had no more cavities or plaque buildup. He explained to us that sometimes bad bacteria can build up in the mouth and there is too much for the good bacteria so the mouthwash helps even things out by killing off some of the bad. Two years later we have had no more cavities or issues. We have not needed to use the mouthwash again either. We did have her adult molars sealed recently (she is 7 now)to be safe but that is it. I am not sure if this applies to your daughter but it was a life saver for us. Our daughter used to cry before going to the dentist but now has no problem going. Also, she is the only one of our three so far that has had these issues as well. I wish you the best of luck!

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