Posts for tag: tooth decay
So, when should you begin taking measures to prevent tooth decay in your child's teeth? When their teeth first begin to show? When all of their primary (baby) teeth are in? Or, wait until their permanent teeth begin erupting?
Actually, tooth decay can be a problem as early as two months of age, before a child's first tooth even comes in. In essence, then, dental disease prevention should be on your radar soon after your child is born. Here's what you can do to prevent the damage of tooth decay to their teeth now and its impact on their dental health in the future.
Start oral hygiene during nursing. Brushing and flossing are lifetime habits that reduce the risk of dental disease. When your children are young, you'll have to perform these tasks for them, ultimately training them to perform them on their own. But even earlier, before their first tooth, you'll want to clean their gums after feedings with a wet cloth to reduce disease-causing bacteria.
Initiate dental visits by age 1. It's appropriate on or before their first birthday, when most children already have a few primary teeth, to begin regular dental visits for cleanings and checkups. Seeing the dentist every six months at an early age will help your child stay well ahead of tooth decay. And starting visits early increases the likelihood it will become a regular part of their lives into adulthood.
Protect against decay. You and your dentist are partners in protecting your child from dental disease. Besides daily oral hygiene, you can also help by providing a dental-friendly diet, and especially restricting sugary snacks and avoiding sweetened liquids in bedtime bottles (including breast milk or formula). In addition to routine care, your dentist can also provide other measures to fight decay, like sealants or topical fluoride.
It's also important for you to set an example for your child to follow. Children soak up what's important to their parents—in this case, watching you take care of your teeth and seeing the dentist as a friend and ally against dental disease. That's your end goal: preventing dental disease now, and instilling the value of dental care that will last your child a lifetime.
If you would like more information on helping your child avoid tooth decay, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Taking the Stress Out of Dentistry for Kids.”
Tooth decay doesn't occur out of thin air, but is the end result of bacteria feeding on sugar, multiplying and producing acid. High acidity erodes tooth enamel and creates an environment for cavity development.
Modern dentistry can effectively treat cavities and often save the tooth from further damage. But you don't have to wait: You can reduce your chances of cavities by managing risk factors that contribute to decay.
Here are 4 top risk factors for tooth decay and what you can do about them.
Poor saliva flow. Saliva neutralizes acid and helps restore minerals to enamel after acid contact. But your enamel may not have full protection against acid if you have diminished saliva flow, often due to certain medications. You can help increase your saliva by consulting with your doctor about drug alternatives, drinking more water or using a saliva boosting product. Smoking can also inhibit saliva, so consider quitting if you smoke.
Eating habits. High sugar content in your diet can increase bacterial growth and acid production. Reducing your overall sugar consumption, therefore, can reduce your risk of decay. Continuous snacking can also increase your decay risk, preventing saliva from bringing your mouth back to its normal neutral pH. Instead, limit your snack periods to just a few times a day, or reserve all your eating for mealtimes.
Dental plaque. Daily eating creates a filmy buildup on the teeth called dental plaque. If not removed, plaque can then harden into a calcified form called calculus, an ideal haven for bacteria. You can help curtail this accumulation by thoroughly brushing and flossing daily, followed by dental cleanings at least every six months. These combined hygiene practices can drastically reduce your cavity risk.
Your genetics. Researchers have identified up to 50 specific genes that can influence the risk for cavities. As a result, individuals with similar dietary and hygiene practices can have vastly different experiences with tooth decay. Besides continuing good lifestyle habits, the best way to manage a genetic disposition for dental disease is not to neglect ongoing professional dental care.
If you would like more information on managing your tooth decay risk factors, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “What Everyone Should Know About Tooth Decay.”
It is important to eat a diet that is rich in nutrients and vitamins. Vitamin deficiencies can cause issues with overall health and oral health.
Raw crunchy fruit and vegetables
These are great for your teeth because they act as self-cleansers. Fruits and vegetables such as fresh carrots, apples and celery will help to remove plaque from your tooth surfaces and leave your teeth cleaner.
Cheese helps to reduce the pH level of your mouth because on a pH scale, it is more basic than acidic. This can be helpful to reduce the acidity of your mouth, especially after eating or drinking something more acidic or sugary. Cheese can also help reduce cavities and acid erosion.
Candies or gum containing Xylitol
Xylitol is an ingredient that is added into toothpaste, mouthwash, gum, mints and candies that helps to reduce the cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth. Xylitol helps to reduce your risk of cavities.
Bad Foods for Your Teeth
Unfortunately, there are many foods out that are bad for teeth than there are foods that are good for your teeth. Sugars and acids are the two main factors to try to reduce or avoid.
Soda is dangerous because it contains both acids and sugars. Soda bathes your teeth in both sugars and acids with every sip and extends the exposure time to your teeth. It is important to note that if you sip a small soda over a few hours, it is worse for your teeth than gulping down a large soda all at once. Cavities are caused by exposure time more so than quantity.
Candy contains sugars and is often sticky, chewy or gummy and will get stuck in the biting surfaces of your teeth. Any candy that doesn’t clear away from your teeth quickly will extend the exposure time to the sugar and potentially cause more cavities.
While relatively good for your health, too much citrus fruit can lead to enamel erosion because of the acids. Try to rinse your mouth with water after eating citrus fruits or foods high in acid.