We must acknowledge the distressing increase of rampant caries (tooth cavities) in young adults and children. As a dental practitioner, it is disheartening to inform a young individual that they need a few fillings. I can always see the stress on their faces. This prompts the pertinent question of what has changed especially with the younger population - Is it lack of home care, nutrition or developmental issues such as skeletal deficiencies?
The foremost solution is awareness and education that empowers young adults with the knowledge and tools for proper brushing routines to prevent cavities and maintain optimum oral health. Secondly, we must acknowledge the role that nutrition plays in enamel strength. The majority of young patients that I treat do not consume a sufficient amount of calcium or other essential nutrients aka milk and dairy products. Certain diets somehow vilify dairy. Unless there were other sources of calcium in the diet, you will see weak enamel and maybe issues with overall bone density and growth. This might be the reason some kids will develop a lot of cavities at a young age as compared to others.
As a parent, it is imperative to address your child's nutritional intake if they are exhibiting a high number of cavities. Adequate calcium intake is vital for developing strong teeth as well as healthy bones. It is important to note that after age 30-35, no additional calcium intake, whether it be through supplements or natural means, significantly impacts bone density. So the crucial years for a diet rich in calcium are the younger years.
As a dental practitioner, I recommend that parents emphasize the importance of a balanced diet that includes an adequate amount of milk, yogurt, and cheese, etc. Encourage young adults and children to choose nutritious snacks like fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains instead of sugary or starchy options. Furthermore, it is important to drink plenty of water and avoid sugary drinks like soda and fruit juices. This conversation might be an important aspect of dental cleaning visit so that along with good home care routines, we are drawing attention the nutritional habits.