Tooth decay, also called dental caries, is a condition caused by bacteria eroding the enamel of the tooth. If the decay process occurs for long, it leads to cavities and tooth sensitivity. It is, therefore, important for parents to understand how to prevent tooth decay. Here is a highlight of what it takes to prevent tooth decay.
Here is the process that causes tooth decay:
The signs of tooth decay vary depending on the stage of decay. It’s difficult to notice any signs during the early stages. As the decay continues, however, there may be apparent symptoms such as black or brown stains on the surface of the teeth and visible holes on the teeth. There might also be spontaneous pain and tooth sensitivity when eating sweet, cold, or hot drinks.
Everyone is at risk of having tooth decay, but the risk can increase due to the following factors:
Here are a few measures parents can take to prevent tooth decay in their children.
Fluoride is an essential mineral in our oral health. It can prevent tooth decay, stop decay from progressing or reverse existing decay. This mineral protects our teeth by preventing mineral loss from the tooth enamel. Additionally, it replaces the minerals that have been lost through erosion. It also reduces the ability of bacteria in our mouth to make acid.
Your child can get fluoride by drinking water from the tap. Most of the water supplied by the community water supply is fluoridated.
Children are discouraged from only drinking bottled water because it doesn’t contain enough fluoride to prevent tooth decay. In such cases, where a child only drinks bottled water, the dentist should prescribe fluoride tablets.
Parents should also encourage the use of a fluoride mouthwash or apply a fluoride varnish or gel to the surface of the teeth.
Every time a child eats or drinks something rich in starch and sugars, bacteria act on the food substance and produces acid that eats away the teeth coating. While saliva can help prevent this form of decay, having frequent meals and snacks might make this problematic. This is because the food repeatedly produces acids, which means the teeth are continuously exposed to erosion. Eventually, the enamel loses minerals, and decay occurs.
Parents should limit snacks in between meals. This will reduce the acid that attacks the teeth, giving the enamel a chance to repair. Sugary foods and drinks should also be saved for special occasions. Bedtime feeding should also be avoided. Naturally, saliva flow in the mouth decreases when we sleep, so having food at bedtime risks the tooth to acid action overnight.
Children should brush with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day. Children under six years should be supervised to ensure they use the right amount of toothpaste and spit it out instead of swallowing. If a child cannot get the teeth cleaned on their own, a parent should help.
Sealants are a plastic coating painted on the surface of molars to prevent food particles from getting stuck on the grooves of the teeth. This works great in preventing bacteria build-up that can cause decay.
For young children, dental visits are essential. The dentist will remove the existing plaque, check signs of decay, apply a fluoride gel, and show the child how to clean their teeth thoroughly.
Get in touch with us at Crescent Heights Dental Clinic to get expert assistance on tooth decay.