It’s time to think differently about childhood tooth decay. Unless you’ve been keeping up with the research (and who does?) you might have an incomplete understanding. Educating patients is one of our functions at Ray McKinley DDS & Brittany McKinley-Holloway DDS — McKinley General, Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry in Shelby Township MI.
Here are three vital things to know about children’s dental health.
1. Tooth Decay Is The Most Common Childhood Disease
Over 4 million preschoolers have cavities. Another sobering fact; tooth decay in young children is on the increase.
Why? There are several factors. Many young diets contain too much sugar. Fewer children drink water that has been adjusted for fluoride levels. Many families don’t have dental insurance to help pay for care.
2. Tooth Decay Bacteria Can Spread
In a way, tooth decay is contagious. Huh? Let’s explain. Bacteria that cause decay is in the mutans streptococcus family. The bacteria mix with sugar. This mixture creates a powerful acid. The acid reduces the calcium in tooth enamel. When the bacteria stays on teeth, it produces a yellowish substance called plaque. Plaque is brutally effective at drilling into tooth enamel.
Mothers, fathers, siblings, and caregivers can transmit the bacteria to babies. Of course, youngsters can get tooth decay if they don’t have this bacteria. But the presence of it increases the risk.
Some kids are better at resisting this bacteria. How do you know if your toddler has a higher risk? If parents have a lot of decay, the child is more vulnerable to it. The child’s diet and daily oral hygiene also affect the risk.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) counsels pediatricians to ask parents about their dental health. Parents whose children are at a higher risk for tooth decay should speak with a pediatric dentist. They can help your youngster beat the odds and emerge from childhood without a mouthful of fillings.
3. Weakened Enamel Can Repair Itself (Up To A Point)
If the teeth are constantly assaulted with juice, milk, and snacks, the enamel never has a chance to re-harden. The juice, milk, and snacks create dangerous acid. Acid and plaque weakens the enamel and may cause a white spot. This is a sign of mineral loss. It’s the first step in the formation of a cavity. At this point, you can reverse the mineral loss. Minerals in saliva and fluoride help enamel re-mineralize. Fluoride does three important things, 1) It replaces minerals. 2) It prevents more mineral loss, 3) It lessens acid-causing bacteria.
Your youngster can get fluoride from toothpaste, fluoridated water, fluoride rinses, fluoride gels, and fluoride supplements. Ask your pediatric dentist which one is best suited for your toddler.
Two critical things to know about fluoride:
1. If little ones get too much fluoride, it can stain teeth. Your pediatric dentist can advise you on the correct amount.
2. Most bottled water doesn’t contain fluoride. If your child only drinks bottled water, they may miss out on the benefits of fluoride-adjusted municipal water.
AtRay McKinley DDS & Brittany McKinley-Holloway DDS — McKinley General, Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry in Shelby Township MI, we help parents keep their kids’ teeth healthy. Our services include general and cosmetic dentistry. Make sure you bring your toddler in for an exam and consultation when their first tooth erupts!