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Prevention and EarlyDental Care
Tooth decay (caries, cavities) is the most common chronic childhood that affects two-thirds of U.S. kids aged 12-19. It is 5 times more common than asthma and 7 times more common than hay fever, but it is preventable.
Tooth Decay Prevention
Tooth decay is a progressive disease resulting from the interaction of bacteria that live on teeth and the sugars that enter the mouth through everyday diet. The bacteria “feed” on sugars and produce acids that break down the mineral in the teeth forming a cavity. Avoiding decay requires strict adherence to proper caries prevention regimens.
-Cavities are considered an infectious disease. Cavity causing bacteria can spread from mouth to mouth via sharing food/drinks, utensils, sneezing, and kissing. To prevent cavities it is important to reduce activities that cause spread cavity causing bacteria or make sure your family and friends are cavity-free family.
-Brushing with fluoride toothpaste and flossing twice a day to reduce levels of bacteria in the mouth. Please consult your pediatric dentist prior to the use of fluoride toothpaste.
-Encourage a healthy diet safe for teeth: Children require a balanced diet for their teeth to develop properly. A diet high in carbohydrates, such as sugars and starches, places children at an extra risk for tooth decay. Most foods contain one or more types of sugar and all types of sugar can promote dental decay. This does not mean a child needs to give up all foods with sugar and starch. This means to select foods wisely. A food with sugar or starch is safer for teeth if it is eaten with a meal and not as a snack. Sticky foods, such as dried fruit or toffee, are not easily washed away from the teeth by saliva or liquids. Therefore, they have more cavities causing potential than foods more rapidly cleared from the teeth.
-Regular dental checkups at least every 6 months
Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Tooth decay in infants can be minimized or totally prevented by not allowing sleeping infants to bottle-feed. Infants that need a bottle to comfortably fall asleep should be given a water-filled bottle or a pacifier.
Fluoride is a substance that helps teeth become stronger and resistant to decay. Regularly drinking water treated with fluoride and brushing/flossing regularly ensures significantly lower cavities. Dentists can evaluate the level of fluoride in a primary drinking water source and recommend fluoride supplements (usually in tablets or drops), if necessary.
The grooves and depressions that form the chewing surfaces of the back teeth are extremely difficult (and sometimes impossible) to clean to remove all bacteria and food. As the bacteria reacts with the food, acids form and break down the tooth enamel, causing cavities. Recent studies indicate that 88 percent of total cavities in American school children are caused this way.
Sealants protect these susceptible areas by sealing the grooves and depressions, preventing bacteria and food particles from residing in these areas. Sealant material is a resin typically applied to the back teeth and in areas prone to cavities. It lasts for several years, but needs to be checked during regular appointments.