It’s time to think differently about childhood tooth decay. Stephen Ratcliff Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, serving Arlington and Grand Prairie, has a team specializing in children’s oral health.
Here are three important things to know about children’s dental health.
Tooth Decay Is The Most Common Childhood Disease
Over 4 million preschoolers have cavities. And, tooth decay in young children is on the increase.
Why? There are several conditions. Many young diets contain more sugar. Fewer children drink water that has been adjusted for fluoride levels. Finally, many families don’t have dental insurance to help pay for care.
Tooth Decay Bacteria Can Spread
In a way, tooth decay is contagious. Huh? Let’s explain. Bacteria that cause cavities is in the mutans streptococcus family. The bacteria mix with sugar. This mixture creates a powerful acid, which then reduces the calcium in tooth enamel. When the bacteria persists on teeth, it generates a yellowish substance called plaque. Plaque is brutally effective at drilling into tooth enamel.
Mothers, fathers, siblings, and caregivers can transmit the bacteria to babies. Of course, toddlers can get decay if they don’t have this bacteria. But the presence of it boosts the risk.
Some children are better at resisting this bacteria. How do you know if your little one has a higher risk? If parents have a lot of decay, the child is more vulnerable to it. The child’s diet and daily oral hygiene also affect the risk.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises pediatricians to ask parents about their dental health. Parents whose children are at a higher risk for decay should talk to a pediatric dentist. They can help your child beat the odds and emerge from childhood without a mouthful of fillings.
Weakened Enamel Can Repair Itself (Up To A Point)
If the teeth are continually bathed with juice, milk, and sticky snacks, the enamel never has a chance to remineralize. The acid and plaque weakens the enamel and may cause a white spot, which is a sign of mineral loss. It’s the first step in the formation of a cavity.
At this point, you can reverse the mineral loss. Minerals in saliva and fluoride help enamel re-mineralize. Fluoride does three important things, 1) It replaces minerals. 2) It prevents further mineral loss, 3) It diminishes acid-causing bacteria.
Your child can get fluoride from toothpaste, fluoridated water, fluoride rinses, fluoride gels, and fluoride supplements. Ask your pediatric dentist which one is best suited for your child.
Whether you need an examination or dental implants, we’ll get you smiling again. Stephen Ratcliff Family & Cosmetic Dentistry in Arlington offers general and family dentistry. We also perform dental implants and teeth whitening, as well as many other cosmetic dentistry procedures. Schedule an appointment with us today.
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