How is tooth decay formed?
Tooth decay is a spot on a tooth where minerals have melted away and a hole has formed. This process, called demineralization, is caused by acids that are created by certain types of bacteria living in our mouths.
Factors that can affect your child’s risk for developing tooth decay
Family history of caries
- History of previous caries, cavities or fillings in children under the age of 5 places a child at high risk for future decay.
- Areas of demineralization, bleeding gums or visible plaque on teeth means bacteria that can cause cavities or infection of the gums are not being removed regularly.
- Mother and family members with cavities means that dietary practices or preventive habits need to be improved.
Weaning and other dietary habits
- Feeding bottles containing something other than milk or water (e.g., soda, juices) increase your child’s risk for tooth decay.
- High frequency of sugar containing foods (candy, sugary foods, beverages with sugar), can increase acid production and contribute to mineral loss and tooth decay.
Oral hygiene and adequate fluoride
- Poor oral hygiene helps build up of acid producing bacteria as plaque in your child’s mouth.
- Helping your child to brush their own teeth will ensure proper removal of plaque and development of healthy habits.
- Fluoride toothpaste can help prevent tooth decay by reducing the loss of minerals and reversing the demineralization process at the early stages of decay.
- Drinking water that contains proper amount of fluoride is an easy, safe and effective way to reduce tooth decay.
Check Your Baby’s Teeth
Healthy teeth should be all one color. If you see spots or stains on the teeth, take your baby to your dentist. Clean your baby’s teeth as soon as they come in with a clean, soft cloth or a baby’s tooth brush. Clean the teeth at least once a day. It is best to clean them right before bedtime.
By about age 2, your child should have most of his or her baby teeth. At this age, you can start brushing their teeth with a small drop of fluoride toothpaste. Very young children can not get their teeth clean by themselves. Until your children are about 7 years old, you should brush their teeth after they do.
Feed Your Baby Healthy Food
Choose foods that are not high in sugar. Give your child fruits and vegetables instead of candy and cookies.
Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
- Do not put your baby to bed with a bottle at night or at nap time. (If you put your baby to bed with a bottle, fill it only with water.) Milk, formula, juices, and other sweet drinks such as soda all have sugar in them. Sucking on a bottle filled with liquids that have sugar in them can cause tooth decay. Decayed teeth can cause pain and extra trips to the dentist.
- During the day, do not give your baby a bottle filled with sweet drinks to use as a pacifier.
- If your baby uses a pacifier, do not dip it in anything sweet like sugar or honey.
- Near your child’s first birthday, you should teach your child to drink from a cup instead of a bottle.
Take Your Child to the Dentist
Ask your dentist when to bring your child in for their first dental visit. Usually, the dentist will want to see a child between ages 1 and 2. At this first visit, your dentist can quickly check your child’s teeth.
(HealthDay News) — If your little one gets a lot of sweetened liquids — including juice, formula and even some brands of milk — the sugars from these liquids can cling to the teeth and cause “baby bottle” tooth decay.
The American Dental Association offers these preventive suggestions:
Wipe baby’s gums with a clean gauze pad after a feeding.
As soon as the first tooth breaks through, start brushing baby’s teeth. Begin flossing when baby has all of his or her teeth.
Don’t let your child take a bottle of juice, milk, formula or anything sweet to bed.
Don’t give your baby a bottle with soda or sugar water.
Talk to your dentist about ways to give your child fluoride if it isn’t in your local water supply.
Schedule regular dental visits for your child, starting at the first birthday.
Adults and children alike enjoy chewing gum, but while chewing gum can have its advantages, such as freshening breath, it can also have its disadvantages. Being aware of the detrimental effects of gum can help consumers make healthful decisions when next purchasing and planning on chewing gum.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
Most gum companies talk about the longevity of their gum products, seldom mentioning the disadvantages or detrimental effects this could have on your jaw. Chewing gum for long periods of time can cause stress to your jawline, which can lead to temporomandibular joint disorder. TMJ can cause severe facial pain and mild to moderate discomfort in the neck, ears and back. In addition, TMJ can cause headaches. The disorder is hard to cure, especially if the continuous chewing of gum occurs.
Chewing gum can have negative effects on your teeth after prolonged usage, such as the destruction of enamel by active bacteria in the mouth and sugar and food particles. Tooth decay is a common problem associated with chewing gum and generally occurs when the tooth’s enamel has been mildly, moderately or severely damaged by the gum’s ingredients. Tooth decay can lead to cavities and, in extreme cases, the loss of a tooth due to needed extraction.
Plaque is a clear biofilm of buildup on the teeth that can lead to both tooth decay and gum disease. Chewing gum or eating any food can cause plaque to form. After consuming food or chewing gum, plaque can formulate on the teeth within a few hours. The bacteria found in plaque can directly lead to tooth decay. If plaque is not removed from teeth quickly enough through brushing and flossing, bacteria can calcify, turn in to tartar and eventually lead to gingivitis if left untreated.
Sugar-Free Gum Consideration
While sugary gum can can be detrimental to your dental health, sugar-free gum acts as a positive alternative. If chewed in moderation, the surface of the calorie-free gum can help remove food particles and remnants of sugar from between the teeth and gums. In addition, sugar-free gum contains xylitol, a natural sweetener that is found in fruits, plants and trees. Xylitol can help reduce the risk of cavities because it blocks bacteria’s ability to stick to teeth effectively.