Tooth Decay Prevention: Tips from a Children's Dentist
February 1, 2017
If you are worried about your child's oral health, bring them to our children's dentist office. Tooth decay is a serious problem among children and is getting worse as children spend more time eating candy as well as drinking sugary sodas and juices. Many parents visit our office wondering what they can do to stop the spread of decay and limit their children's exposure to oral health problems. We are happy to answer any questions from patients to help arm them with knowledge against tooth decay.
Understanding tooth decay
Decay does not happen instantly. Since decay happens over time, daily habits are critical to oral health. Bacteria can grow naturally in the mouth and grow faster when consuming sugar. The more sugar in a child's diet, the faster bacteria will grow and spread. Bacteria will then produce acid that is dangerous for the child's teeth. For 20 minutes after eating, a child can have his or her teeth awash in acid and even longer if they are drinking soda or eating anything high in sugar or carbohydrates.
Impact of acid on the teeth
As acid begins to attack the teeth, it will wear away the outer layer of the teeth known as the enamel. While the enamel is strong, it is not strong enough to resist constant attacks from acid and bacteria. Eventually, the enamel will give way and a cavity will form. Underneath the enamel is the middle layer of the tooth called dentin. The dentin is more sensitive since it contains the nerve endings.
If tooth decay spreads to the dentin, a child will experience tooth sensitivity and discomfort. If the decay spreads into the center of the tooth, the child will have a severe and terrible toothache that may need a root canal.
Fighting tooth decay
As a children's dentist, we have tools to help fight tooth decay, including:
Fluoride contains the natural mineral, fluorine and can strengthen the teeth when ingested through water or by direct application in our dental office. When fluoride makes teeth stronger, they are better equipped to withstand the acid attacks. This is why fluoride treatments on a regular basis can reduce the likelihood of cavities forming by 30 percent in children, according to the American Dental Association.
Removing plaque and tartar is an important step in preventing tooth decay because plaque produces acid. We suggest bringing children to our office twice per year so that we can remove plaque that has remained, even after at-home cleanings. This too will reduce the risk of cavities forming.
If a child has deep ridges on the chewing surfaces of their teeth, it will be difficult to clean them. Food and plaque can easily become trapped and decay can form. To protect the teeth, we can apply dental sealant. This is a plastic-like barrier that is painted on this portion of the tooth so that when your child eats, nothing touches the tooth directly.
Steps to take at home
You can also prevent tooth decay by helping your child to brush and floss on a daily basis. Additionally, we recommend eliminating foods and drinks that are high in sugar or acid from their diet.
Call for help
If you want to prevent tooth decay, bring your child to our children's dentist office for an examination and teeth cleaning. We can help them to remain in good oral health.