Cavities. Tooth Decay. It can be prevented naturally.
Children too often experience decay. In the early stages it is painless and can go unidentified without a professional dental examination. Decay is needless and can be prevented. It is the result of many factors including diet, oral hygiene, and bacteria. Everyone has varying risk factors. So it’s up to the caregivers to ensure that children are having tooth safe snacks, eating whole healthy foods are effectively cleaning their teeth and visit a dental professional regularly. Your dental professional can guide you on the ideal plan for your child’s best health.
Decay starts as chalky white areas on the teeth where there should be shiny enamel as demonstrated in the picture above. It is at this point that a dental professional can identify the start of the decay process. We can then intervene to identify the cause of the demineralization. The decay process can be reversed or arrested before a certain point. This is why baby’s first visit by the first birthday is imperative. An oral health assessment should be completed including dietary analysis. With modification to diet, habits and the addition of remineralization products your child may never need to experience a painful or traumatic filling. There are so many options to help including xylitol.
Cavity Prevention Therapy
Cavity prevention starts at home. So a thorough oral health assessment including diet, habits and medical history will help us prevent future tooth decay. Everything from the when tooth brushing is taking place, to how much water your child drinks plays a role. We can then develop a plan to stop the decay process. This plan will include diet and habit modification, product recommendations, and professional care frequencies.
Professionally applied topical fluoride is a proven safe, painless, inexpensive way to remineralize these “white spot” lesions. We can actually reverse or arrest the caries process. This can prevent the need for a filling that will not be so painless and inexpensive. Check out this link. A varnish or topical fluoride is recommended for high risk kids 2-4 x annually.
Baby Teeth Matter
Why protect baby teeth? Won’t they get new ones? Yes baby teeth will be replaced by adult teeth. But the habits needed to keep baby teeth healthy will also keep the adult ones healthy. Baby teeth are a guide for erupting adult teeth. If these primary teeth are damaged or removed prematurely the adult teeth can be affected. Not to mention healthy diet of whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruit is difficult to eat without teeth. And decayed or diseased teeth affect quality of life and self image.
Emerging adult teeth are at risk for decay. If your child has a history of decay or is struggling to control the plaque sealants may be a consideration. A sealant is a coating placed in the deep grooves of the emerging adult molars that can protect it from decay. Talk to your dental professional to determine if sealants should be placed on your child’s teeth. At Embrace Dental Hygiene we use Embrace sealant material that is BPA free and releases a remineralizing agent into the surface of the tooth it is bonded to. Again a sealant is a safe, painless and inexpensive preventive method that can prevent painful expensive treatment later on.
Kids under the age of 10 need help brushing and flossing. A caregiver needs to be involved with these oral hygiene habits to ensure they are happening and are effective. Parents need to lift their infant or toddler’s lip (check out this video) to ensure all of the plaque is removed and there is no evidence of white spots. If you are unsure check with your dental professional. We can also recommend techniques that will help you and your child effectively manage bacteria and reduce decay.
Cost of Care
I offer a free first visit for kids under 3 here at Embrace Dental Hygiene. The Public Health Unit also screens children for free. The earlier we enrol a child into regular dental visits the less intimidating it is. Waiting for symptoms particularly in a child is just not effective. Children will put up with a lot of discomfort before complaining. I’ve witnessed toddlers with abcesses that didn’t complain at all. Once a cavity progresses through the enamel we can no longer reverse it. It requires treatment that often includes an injection and maybe sedation. Our goal is always to prevent problems if possible or to address them early before a possibly traumatic treatment is necessary. Prevention is always less expensive and traumatic than treatment.
*Children under the age of 17 who live in a household with no access to dental benefits may be eligible for free preventative dental care. Call the Public Health Unit or visit Healthy Smiles Ontario to see if your kids may qualify. Embrace Dental Hygiene accepts the Healthy Smiles program.
Jen Mayhew, RDH