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First and Foremost – Prevention:
We all have certain bacteria in our mouths that cause cavities. The goal is to keep the level of these bacteria low in order to decrease the risk of causing decay.
Brush at least two times per day….this will result in less plaque. Plaque is the white fluffy ‘stuff’ that contains the bacteria which cause cavities. The bacteria in the plaque act on sugar that is present in the food that we eat, to produce acids: frequent acid attacks on the enamel of the tooth are the cause of a cavity starting. So, prevention I.e., brushing and flossing is the key. Please see the blog “Anatomy of a Toothache” posted on October 28th, 2012 to read more about the actual ‘decay’ process.
By visiting the dentist early, we can instruct you on how to:
1) Reduce gingival inflammation
2) Eat the proper foods that are low in sugar and help you to
3) Understand how a cavity forms I.e., frequent attacks on the enamel of the teeth.
‘Early visits can prevent cavities from starting.’
The Different Age Groups
Children 0-2 years old of age – Dental Issues:
It is important to keep the primary (baby) teeth clean as they erupt into the mouth or else they may decay.
In addition, parents or caregivers are urged to clean their child’s tongue, cheeks and gum clean after feedings…Sugar in milk can result in decay. Children’s toothbrushes can be used or even a washcloth.
Teething is when the primary teeth first come into the mouth. Some children may show signs of teething I.e., irritable behaviour, crying, and frequent awakenings at night, drooling, putting objects in their mouth…while others may show no signs at all.
It is best for children who show the signs of teething to chew on something cold, I.e., cold teething rings, a frozen wash cloth.
Baby bottle caries occurs when you put your child to bed with a bottle that contains liquids with sugar I.e., milk, orange juice. The sugar pools around the primary teeth while the child is sleeping and result in what is commonly known as ‘Baby Bottle Caries.’
Decay Causing Bacteria can easily be transferred from the adult to the baby under certain circumstances I.e., if a baby drops their pacifier on the floor and the mom puts it into her mouth to remove any germs, then decay causing bacteria found in the mouth can be transferred from the mother to the child. Children are not born with decay causing bacteria in their mouths, they acquire them.
Fluoride is recommended when a child reaches six months of age. It can be given as fluoridated water or as fluoride supplements. See the blogs “Fluoride and your Dental Health,” posted on February 18th and 25th and March 4th of 2013.
When you start brushing your child’s teeth, use a tooth paste with fluoride but only a small amount (pea size) and make sure that they don’t swallow the toothpaste.
Children 2-3 years of age:
Usually by 2 and a half to 3 years of age, all 20 of your child’s primary teeth should have erupted into the mouth. In addition, by this age, we would like to be seeing your child every 6 months for their checkups and their cleanings.
Aside from providing the function of chewing, your child’s primary teeth are important because they hold the space for the adult teeth which lie buried beneath them in the gums and bone….sees blog “Space Maintainers,” posted on December 1st, 2012.
This is why we need to keep the primary teeth in good condition: If they are not in good condition and they need to come out, the resulting spaces that are left may result in shifting of the remaining primary teeth and interfere with the eruption of the underlying adult teeth.
In the next blog, we will discuss some particulars as they relate to the 7-14 year old age group.
Yours in dental health,
Dr. Robert Axelrad