Is your child at risk for cavities?
Periodic Dental AppointmentsBringing young children for dental visits starting at age 1 is a great start to a healthy beautiful smile! These visits allow for preventive for the child, and reinforcement of proper home care and dietary habits.
Home CareThis is one of the most important preventive services that you can do on a daily basis to prevent cavities. Everyone has bacteria in their mouth capable of causing cavities. These bacteria are constantly producing plaque that is very acidic. If not removed consistently, the acidic plaque will cause cavities. Proper home care (brushing and flossing) are taught in our office, and reduce plaque levels below the levels that can cause cavities. It is critical to remove plaque and bacteria frequently and effectively everyday. Parents should brush their child's teeth a minimum of twice daily and to floss at least once daily. The night time brushing is critical because plaque levels increase during the day after meals, and we do not want to go to bed with all that acid on the teeth! We recommend parents actually brushing and flossing for their child until the 3rd th 4th grade. Children can and need to practive, but their solo efforts often fall below the standard, leaving plague that will destroy enamel over time. Even children that brush 3 times a day can still be high risk due to the ineffective or substandard plague removal. Proper prevention skills in brushing and flossing are reviewed and reinforced during periodic exams in our office. In fact we grade each child's oral hygiene, so we can track progress.
DietLet's face it... the American diet causes cavities, as well as numerous other health problems. You only have to watch television for short time before you are bombarded with food advertisements aimed at enticing your children. The cheapest form of sweetener (high fructose corn syrup) is added to virtually all packaged and processed pre-sweetened beverages and foods. It is extremely cariogenic ( cavity causing). Diet drinks with artificial sweeteners are a big problem as well. Most of these substances can be converted to acids in the dental plaque, but they pose additional health concerns as well, so it is best to avoid them. If you must use an artificial sweetener, Xylitol is the best because it does not promote tooth decay! Unfortunately, it is more expensive so most manufactures chose not to use it. Trident gum, however contain Xylitol, so it is a good choice for those who chew gum. Fruit juice, also, is a form of sugar that promotes cavities because the bacteria in the mouth can convert the fruit sugar to acid. Parents , mistakenly thing that if it is 100% pure fruit juice it must be good. IN moderation it is okay, just watch the frequency, or you will unknowingly increase the cavity risk for your child!
It is next to impossible ti avoid or eliminate foods that will cause cavities. Di you know that ketchup contains a ton of sugar (the second ingredient on the label), or that crackers can cause cavities?
It is obvious that juice, soda, milk, and sports drinks can cause cavities. Sweetened beverages tend to be especially problematic because these are routinely started in a child's life, and cavities develop before parents realize there is a problem, or before they receive preventive counseling. ( See also the section on early childhood caries, baby bottle tooth decay, and nursing decay)
Problems arise when the frequency of cavity causing foods override our preventive efforts (brushing and flossing). Remember, frequency is more critical that quantity when it comes to cavities. Even good plague removers (brushers and flossers) will develop cavities when frequency of consumption of cavity causing food is high! The acid wins the battle, and the tooth loses.
We recommend limiting the frequency of sweetened beverages of any type to meals and to drink RO or purified water between meals as a general guideline. Put sweet snacks are consumed between meals, there are good choices that do not cause as much risk, and are healthier for you teeth. Ask one of our staff members to review healthy snacks for your child.
Fluride is a substance that helps teeth to become stronger. Fluoride is drinking water, either naturally occurring or added, exerts its effect mainly during tooth formation and maturation. This is the systemic (whole body) effect, because the fluoride is ingested. But, be careful! A little is good, and more is not better. It's like air pressure in a car's tires. There is an optimum amount. Too little is not good, and of course too much is disastrous! In West Texas, fluoride occurs naturally in our eater supply, and in amounts that often exceed recommended ingested levels. We recommend drinking bottled spring water, or city water that is filtered through an RO system to limit exposure to this type of fluoride.
Fluoride in the form of toothpastes, gels, mouth rinses, and varnishes provide a topical (local) effect and increase the enamel resistant to cavities. Topical fluorides are not intend to be swallowed but remain on the enamel surface to create a fluoride rich zone for cavity prevention. This is the type of fluoride treatment that we provide in the office. Ask one of our team members to explain the benefits of fluoride.
Sealants are a plastic resin coating banded directly onto the biting surfaces of back teeth (molars) to cover the grooves and depressions that are susceptible to cavities. Sealing these grooves lessens the risk for cavities and is a good preventive strategy in moderate to high risk kids.
Not every molar tooth needs sealant. Some teeth have very shallow grooves that are easily cleaned. At the kid's place , we evaluate the need for sealants based on previous cavity experience, current risk, and susceptibility of the grooves.
Sealants will last an average about 8 - 10 yeas, or the length of a average filling. Most insurance companies will cover of this cost effective preventive procedure. Let us help prevent cavities for your child by offering sealants!