What is a cavity? Cavities, also called dental caries are holes in teeth that can get bigger and deeper over time. These holes are caused by tooth decay which originates from plaque. Plaque is a colorless, sticky film of bacteria that is constantly forming on your teeth and is the main cause of tooth decay. The bacteria in plaque reacts with sugar in the foods we eat and the beverages we drink. Then acids are produced and will attack and weaken the enamel of our teeth. This is something we don’t want because the enamel of our teeth is the hard, protective coating. When enamel breaks down, teeth are left unprotected, making it easier for cavities to develop. We need to brush and floss every day to remove plaque. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that tooth decay is the most preventable chronic disease in children. Toddler tooth decay should be on every parents radar because 42% of children ages 2 to 11 develop a cavity in their primary teeth according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
Where Can Cavities Form on Teeth?
1. Biting surface of teeth. The grooves and crevices on the top of our teeth can trap plaque and are more prone to decay in children because they haven’t mastered brushing techniques yet.
2. Between teeth. The areas between the teeth can be hard to reach and are difficult for toothbrushes to get to. These areas need to be flossed to prevent plaque buildup.
3. On root surfaces of teeth. These areas are more often affected in those who have suffered gum recession or bone loss. This area is also more susceptible in older people. Plaque left on exposed teeth can develop into cavities because the roots of teeth don’t have enamel protection.
Ways to Reverse Tooth Decay & Prevent Dental Cavities
1. Start brushing teeth early. Start rubbing your baby’s gums with gauze early on and when teeth start to appear, you can use a baby toothbrush and water to clean your baby’s teeth. As they get older you can get larger toothbrushes but help them until they are 8 to 10 years old as they don’t have the coordination to do it themselves until then. Start getting in the habit of flossing when your child’s teeth start to touch and monitor them until they have the hang of it.
2. Early dental visits. It’s recommended that your child starts making trips to the dentist when they are a year old. This gets them used to seeing the dentist and the dentist will be able to monitor the growth and development of their teeth.
3. Healthy snacks & drinks. To prevent the bacteria from food and drinks attacking teeth, it’s good to have your children enjoy snacks and drinks with as little sugar as possible.
4. Get enough fluoride. Fluoride is a mineral that will help strengthen the enamel of the teeth and helps make them more resistant to decay. Talk with your dentist to make sure your child is getting enough.
5. Dental sealants. Think of sealants as little protective coats for your teeth. Sealants are clear barriers that are applied to the top of teeth for protection from decay.
Scheduling regular visits to the dentist throughout your child’s life is very important in preventing dental problems. Contact Smile Reef to make appointment to have their teeth examined today!
Did you know that chewing gum has been around since prehistoric times? In fact the first rudimentary form of chewing gum was made from tree sap from the birch bark tree. The ancient Greeks chewed the resin from the mastic tree to help clean their teeth and freshen their breath. Pretty clever when you consider that mastic gum has antiseptic properties which the Greeks believed would help contribute to good oral health. Even the Mayans liked chewy treats and the boiled sap from the sapodilla tree, called “cha” was given to children to chew as on special occasions. It wasn’t until the 1800s that a forward thinking entrepreneur named John Curtis introduced chewing gum made from Spruce sap to the American public with his sticks of gum aptly named “Maine Pure Spruce Gum”
Is Chewing Gum Good for Your Oral Health?
Today, gum comes in many different forms and varies greatly in shape, size and flavor, but did you know that some types of gum actually clean your teeth as you chew them? When it comes to choosing gum, it’s the type of gum that can make a huge difference to your oral health. Chewing gum that contains sugar for example, can increase the chance of you or your child developing cavities, but research shows that chewing sugar-free gum especially sugar-free gum that is sweetened with xylitol can actually help protect your teeth from cavity causing bacteria.
Best Sugar Free Chewing Gum for Teeth
Research shows that chewing sugar-free gum after snacks and meals can help to neutralize the acids released by the naturally occurring bacteria found in your child’s mouth. In fact chewing gum has been proven to stimulate the production of saliva which can neutralize decay causing acids known to contribute to the buildup of plaque within 20 minutes of gum chewing. Plaque damages the enamel of the teeth, making the surface susceptible to cavities. The artificial sweetener contained in a stick of gum combined with the chewing motion can release as much as ten times the normal amount of saliva, which not only neutralizes the acids found in your child’s mouth, it also washes away tiny particles of food, which helps to keep their teeth clean and free of decay causing bacteria.
Xylitol & Dental Caries
Naturally occurring oral bacteria called Streptococcus mutans, is one of the primary sources of cavity causing oral bacteria. Sugar-free gum that is sweetened with xylitol has been proven to inhibit the growth of certain bacteria including Streptococcus mutans. How? Xylitol stops the bacteria from adhering to the surface of the tooth, in essence disabling the cavity-causing process. Further studies indicate that the continued use of xylitol can cause the bacteria in the mouth to change by allowing less decay-causing bacteria to survive on the surface of the teeth.
Oral Hygiene Routine
For the majority of children and their parents, chewing sugar-free gum can be beneficial especially in situations where tooth brushing and flossing are impractical. However chewing gum should never be used as a substitute for good oral hygiene practices. Your Smile Reef pediatric dentist recommends a dental health plan which consists of brushing and flossing twice a day combined with regular dental checkups for the continued health of your child’s teeth and gums.