Tooth Decay Process (2): How to Reverse It and Avoid a Cavity

How can we help teeth win the tug of war and avoid a cavity?

Use fluoride

Fluoride is a mineral that can prevent tooth decay from progressing. It can even reverse, or stop, early tooth decay.
Fluoride works to protect teeth. It . . .

  • prevents mineral loss in tooth enamel and replaces lost minerals.
  • reduces the ability of bacteria to make acid.

You can get fluoride by:

  • Drinking fluoridated water from a community water supply; about 74 percent of Americans served by a community water supply system receive fluoridated water. (If you have well water, see “Private Well Water and Fluoride” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
  • Brushing with a fluoride toothpaste

If your dentist thinks you need more fluoride to keep your teeth healthy, he or she may—

  • Apply a fluoride gel or varnish to tooth surfaces
  • Prescribe fluoride tablets
  • Recommend using a fluoride mouth rinse

Keep an eye on how often your child eats, as well as what she eats.

12Your child’s diet is important in preventing a cavity. Remember . . . every time we eat or drink something that contains sugar or starches, bacteria in our mouth use the sugar and starch to produce acids. These acids begin to eat away at the tooth’s enamel.

Our saliva can help fight off this acid attack. But if we eat frequently throughout the day — especially foods and drinks containing sugar and starches — the repeated acid attacks will win the tug of war, causing the tooth to lose minerals and eventually develop a cavity.

That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on how often your children eat as well as what they eat.

  • Limit between-meal snacks. This reduces the number of acid attacks on teeth and gives teeth a chance to repair themselves.
  • Save candy, cookies, soda, and other sugary drinks for special occasions
  • Limit fruit juice. Follow the Daily Juice Recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • Make sure your child doesn’t eat or drink anything with sugar in it after bedtime tooth brushing. Saliva flow decreases during sleep. Without enough saliva, teeth are less able to repair themselves after an acid attack.

Make sure your child brushes

Here’s what you should know about brushing:

  1. Have your child brush two times per day
  2. Supervise young children when they brush –
    • For children aged 2 to 6, you put the toothpaste on the brush. Use only a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
      _toothbrush_paste
    • Encourage your child to spit out the toothpaste rather than swallow it. Children under 6 tend to swallow much of the toothpaste on their brush. If children regularly consume higher-than-recommended amounts of fluoride during the teeth-forming years (age 8 and younger), their permanent teeth may develop white lines or flecks called dental fluorosis. Fluorosis is usually mild; in many cases, only a dental professional would notice it. (In children under age 2, dental experts recommend that you do not use fluoride toothpaste unless directed by a doctor or dentist.)
    • Until they are 7 or 8 years old, you will need to help your child brush. Young children cannot get their teeth clean by themselves. Try brushing your child’s teeth first, then let her finish.

Talk to a dentist about sealants

Dental sealants are another good way to help avoid a cavity. Sealants are thin, plastic coatings painted onto the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, or molars. Here’s why sealants are helpful: The chewing surfaces of back teeth are rough and uneven because they have small pits and grooves. Food and bacteria can get stuck in the pits and grooves and stay there a long time because toothbrush bristles can’t easily brush them away. Sealants cover these surfaces and form a barrier that protects teeth and prevents food and bacteria from getting trapped there:

  • The first permanent molars — called “6 year molars” — come in between the ages of 5 and 7.
  • The second permanent molars — “12 year molars” — come in when a child is between 11 and 14 years old.

Take your child to the dentist for regular check-ups

Visit a dentist regularly for cleanings and an examination. During the visit the dentist or hygienist will:

  • Remove dental plaque
  • Check for any areas of early tooth decay
  • Show you and your child how to thoroughly clean the teeth
  • Apply a fluoride gel or varnish, if necessary
  • Schedule your next regular check-up

 

Resources:
http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/oralhealth/OralHealthInformation/ChildrensOralHealth/ToothDecayProcess.htm#mouth

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s