The Truth About Cavities
Unfortunately, tooth decay is relatively common in children – so familiar it is the # one preventable childhood disease.
Yes, it is a disease! One that is very preventable with awareness of oral hygiene, diet, digestion, and the pH levels in both your mouth and your gut.
Why do dental cavities remain one of the most common diseases that affect children of all ages? That is a great question about how we are taught to care for our mouth and body at a young age what we know. We don’t know what we don’t know. By the age of 4, more than 1 in every four children has at least one cavity. Some children get cavities much earlier than others; it has been blamed on genetics and soft teeth. Or not brushing and flossing enough.
We are told it’s very important to schedule your child’s first dental visit by their first birthday – to discuss prevention practices, dietary practices and other recommendations that will help ensure your child has protective measures in place to help prevent tooth decay from developing. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 42% of children who are ages 2 to 11 develop a cavity in their baby (primary) teeth.
Health starts with your mouth. Your mouth tells a story even at a young age about your health. Are you listening? Do you know what to look for as a parent?
Cavities are caused by bacteria, sugars, and low pH
Many people think you’re going to lose the baby teeth anyway, so why does it matter if they get a cavity? While some baby teeth are lost at age 4-6, others stay until your child is 13-14. If there is no permanent tooth developing below a baby toothsome adults will keep a healthy baby tooth all of their life. This is called congenitally missing. Meaning you never developed a permanent tooth. It can be genetic. Both my sister and I were missing some of our permanent teeth. I was missing 5. She was missing 4. I never had any wisdom teeth. Does that mean I lack wisdom? LOL!! I hope not!
The only way to know if you are congenitally missing a permanent tooth is with an x-ray. Knowing what is going on in your mouth or your child’s mouth early is important so you can have a plan. Knowledge is power when it comes to being your own healthcare advocate and getting ahead of a problem or preventing one from occurring.
Let’s talk about the oral microbiome. It starts with the health of the parent’s mouth and affects your baby even in the womb. The group of germs (bacteria) that play a significant role in the development of tooth decay are called mutans streptococcus. These bacteria feed on sugar and produce acid that, in time, will dissolve minerals on the outermost layer of the tooth, known as enamel. As tooth decay progresses, the inner layer of the tooth will also become affected – this layer is known as the dentin. When caries progress even further, the nerve and blood vessels of the tooth can become affected. It is important to have the best preventive practices at an early age. It is also essential to have regular dental examinations for a dentist to examine for any signs of decay that might be present and to address them accordingly.
Regarding tooth decay, the first sign that minerals are being lost, a process is known as ‘demineralization’ is the development of white/chalky spots on the teeth. In time, as these areas break down, a cavity may form. These same bacteria are also responsible for contributing dental plaque—a soft, sticky, yellowish film that builds up on teeth and can further cause tooth decay and /or lead to gum disease (gingivitis, periodontitis, and other infections, health concerns) if not removed regularly. Brushing is one of the ways to remove the biofilm, bacteria, and acids from the tooth surface.
Dental disease is silent and hard to detect at home unless it has progressed to a stage where you see a white, brown, or black spot on a tooth. How do you know if you or a loved one has a cavity? X-rays are the best way to detect a cavity early.
How does a dentist know there is a cavity?
At each dental visit, the dentist will examine your child’s teeth, tongue, gums, and other soft tissues and oral structures. As the dentist examines the teeth, he or she will be evaluating each tooth for potential signs or the presence of dental decay. To facilitate a thorough examination, your dentist may recommend certain dental radiographs be taken (also known as x-rays). Dental radiographs provide a view of your child’s teeth and surrounding bone that a dentist would not otherwise be able to see by visual examination only. With dental radiographs in addition to clinical examination, your dentist may be able to detect early signs of dental disease and offer preventive recommendations or treatment recommendations based on their findings.
How can I help prevent dental decay/cavities in my child’s teeth?
There are certain measures you can take to help prevent or reduce the incidence or development of dental caries.
- Regular brushing and flossing: Brushing in the morning and before bed actually removes plaque – which can serve as the reservoir for bacteria sugar. Flossing does the same and gets in between teeth – areas where toothbrush bristles cannot reach.
- Begin oral/tooth cleanings when teeth erupt.
- Non-Fluoride toothpaste is available.
- For High caries risk patients: by two years of age. (Parent supervision of age-appropriate amount of paste –rice size/smear).
- Recommend parent/caregiver brush teeth until the child is approximately six years of age and demonstrate thorough brushing.
- Recommend brushing twice per day.
- Bedtime is the most critical time to brush.
- Fluoride: fluoride toothpaste helps to restore minerals that were lost due to acid-producing bacteria. Fluoride on teeth can also limit the activity acid that’s created. Fluoride that is ingested (foods/beverages) — most commonly from fluoride-treated water that we get from our water faucet in our homes, and sometimes via foods that were processed with fluoridated water. This also helps to strengthen teeth (potentially helping to strengthen permanent teeth that may be still developing under the baby teeth).
- Fluoridated Toothpaste: The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has the following recommendations regarding the use of Fluoride toothpaste.
Fluoride is a very controversial subject. I did not use toothpaste at all until my daughter was much older. Even though we had well water. She did not like the taste of the toothpaste. I used MI paste with recaldent. It has no Fluoride. There is an option with Fluoride called MI paste plus. According to the ADA, fluoridated toothpaste generally has 0.1% F; 1,000 ppm should be used twice daily as a primary preventive procedure. Brushing twice a day has greater benefits than brushing once per day. Because you are disrupting the bacteria that cause cavities.A parent or other responsible adult must dispense the appropriate volume of toothpaste onto a soft, age-appropriate-sized toothbrush based on the child’s age. The parent should also supervise the frequency of brushing and assist/participate in brushing teeth for young children.
- Using only a ‘smear’ of fluoridated toothpaste is recommended for children under two years of age.
- A ‘pea-size’ amount of toothpaste for children aged two through five years is appropriate. To maximize the beneficial effect of Fluoride in toothpaste, rinsing after brushing should be kept to a minimum or eliminated.
Your dentist may recommend additional at-home topical fluoride regimens utilizing increased concentrations of Fluoride if your child has an increased or high risk for dental caries. These may include over-the-counter (0.02% F; 200 ppm F) or prescription-strength (0.09% F; 900 ppm F) formulations.
When your child presents for a six-month dental check-up, your dentist may recommend a professionally applied fluoride product known as fluoride varnish to help further strengthen and protect your child’s teeth from dental caries!
There are many options for recommended exposure to Fluoride, including mouthwashes, supplements, and treatments at the dental office. Please speak to your Physician and or dentist to find out the best option for your children. Go with what you believe. One product is not suitable for everyone; that is why there are so many products available on the market. I love Burst Toothpaste or toms for kids. www.burstoralcare.com Use Promo code 5ZMZBR for the discount.
- Less exposure to sugary or starchy foods: The more frequently sugary, starchy foods are consumed throughout the day, and in between meals, the more bacteria can build up. Remember, the bacteria build-up, digest the sugar and produce acid as a waste product. The bacteria feeds on sugar – the acid by-product can lead to loss of the minerals in the tooth surface – leading to dental caries’ Cavities’. Try to limit the sugary and starchy (chips, bread, cookies, etc.) snacks your child eats. Starch turns into sugar once eaten. It is essential to avoid starches and sugars before bedtime!
It is recommended to visit the dentist regularly: Children should have their first dental visit by their first birthday, and then every six months for a cleaning and check-up/examination. The early preventive measures are very important to help prevent decay from forming. If decay is already present, early detection is best to address before the dental caries progress, potentially requiring more extensive treatment. Unfortunately, even these days, not everyone has access to care. So creating good habits from the start is the way to prevent cavities from happening in the first place. If you or your spouse had cavities as a child, it doesn’t mean your children will. Bad teeth do not generally run in the family; bad habits do.
You can change your habits. You can change your kids’ habits. It is a choice, one that is not always easy. It is easy for me to sit here and tell you what you should do. I have lived it. I was not always consistent. I suffered the consequences. Learn from my experience. This is why I share if I had only known some of this stuff before I had my daughter. I had no idea what sensory issues were and what my child was experiencing but could not verbalize it. I caused some trauma because I thought she was testing me and pushing the boundaries. I was told I needed to get control of her behavior. I was not very sensitive to her needs, and I just did what I knew. I took advice from someone who believed you needed to set boundaries and discipline bad behavior. Now I know better. Now I know lack of sleep, sleep-disordered breathing, and behavioral and sensory issues are not mutually exclusive. There are signs, and your child may not express what they are feeling, so acting out is a defense mechanism. I wish I had asked more questions and been more sensitive. I thought It was a battle of wills, and I was not going to lose. Touch smells textures honestly freaked her out, and she needed consistency and routine. Something I have never been good at.
There are many reasons kids get cavities: breathing, diet, ph, habits, home care routines, and parents’ knowledge of all the above.
Dental Sealants: Dental sealants can be an excellent preventive measure. Depending on your child’s age, caries susceptibility, and caries risk assessment, your child’s dentist may recommend sealants to the chewing surface of molars. Dental sealants are recommended for your child’s permanent molars in many cases. A dental sealant is a flowable plastic-type material that bonds to the tooth. It is applied on the chewing surface of molars – it helps to ‘seal’ the deep grooves on the tooth surface, which helps to ensure that the tooth has a smooth surface that a toothbrush can more easily clean. These are like Fluoride, and not everyone believes in placing them.
You will need to decide what is suitable for you and your family based on your childhood experiences, knowledge, beliefs, and habits. I share the information I know. Both sides. I tend not always to follow what everyone else is doing. I am all about being your health advocate for yourself and your children.
I believe electric toothbrushes and water flossers are beneficial tools to prevent cavities. Tepe has a small special toothbrush to help get into hard-to-reach areas.
I will put my wellness partner links in the description. I also have a brushing basics box that comes with tools and videos to help teach you and your family better habits.
Burst www.burstoralcare.come promo code 5ZMZBR
Nuskin AP24 toothpaste https://shereemynuskin.com