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All Posts in Category: Child Oral Health

childhood tooth decay

Childhood Tooth Decay: Getting to the Root of the Issue

It’s widely assumed that young children don’t need to go to the dentist because they will be losing their baby teeth anyway. However, childhood tooth decay can start even before the first teeth have fully come in. Once tooth decay has set in, it can make your child’s permanent teeth more susceptible to tooth decay.

What Causes Tooth Decay in Children?

The same sugary sweets and drinks that cause tooth decay in adults can lead to tooth decay in children as young as toddlers. Since children are typically eating and drinking a lot more sugary things than adults, their chances of developing tooth decay are heightened. Some surprising things that contain excess sugar include:

  • Fruit juices (even natural juices with no added sugar)
  • Flavored water
  • Formula
  • Processed baby food
  • Toddler biscuits, crackers, and cookies

So, the first line of defense against childhood tooth decay is to limit sweetened drinks and food.

A Scientific Development Against Childhood Tooth Decay

Recently, a new scientific development was made with insights into the causes of childhood tooth decay. Bacteria have long been recognized as a cause of tooth decay. But in recent findings at the University of Pennsylvania, another culprit has been found. Candida albicans, a fungus, has been shown to interact with bacteria in the mouth to form a biofilm on the surface of the teeth. Essentially, the bacterial yeast is utilized by the fungus as a way to form a molecular bond that attaches itself to the tooth surface.

While this sounds alarming, it’s simply one more way that childhood tooth decay can take hold in the early years. The good news is that those same researchers are working on developing a means by which the bond can’t take place. Without the yeast, the fungus can’t form that biofilm that causes tooth decay and vice versa. Current methods of bacteria control include the use of fluoride in water, toothpaste, and mouthwashes. However, bacteria quickly multiply, and the oral cavity can be re-infected with bacteria quite readily. While oral bacteria is difficult to control without severe curtailment of sugary foods and drinks, the fungus can be targeted instead. The researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are working hard to develop methodologies that will target the fungi rather than the bacteria. Before coming to market, they will, of course, need to go through clinical trials.

How Can Parents Help Avoid Childhood Tooth Decay?

Left untreated, childhood tooth decay can become so severe that medical intervention is required, often in the form of oral surgery. While science is working on new ways to prevent and treat childhood tooth decay, it’s important for parents to work with dentists in Washington D.C. to avoid childhood tooth decay at home. Here are some suggestions:

  • Offer water instead of fruit juices for hydration.
  • Avoid offering lemon or lime flavored water, which can lead to tooth enamel erosion.
  • Wean youngsters off pacifiers as soon as reasonably possible.
  • Avoid offering candies and sweet pastries as much as possible.
  • Teach, encourage and monitor safe tooth brushing techniques.

Please call us today to schedule a dentist appointment for your child. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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baby oral health

How Early Should You Consider Your Baby’s Oral Health Care?

From the moment parents learn they are expecting a baby, they embark on a whirlwind of preparation. In addition to the shopping for baby furniture and clothing, parents also “shop” for a pediatrician and plan for well baby checkups. While every aspect of a new baby is researched and planned, the issue of when to consider oral health can be confusing. In fact, many parents do not even think about oral care until teething begins, but a baby can benefit from oral care even before birth.

Oral health begins in the womb

The problem with not considering oral health care until Baby sprouts his first tooth is that the tooth was already formed months ago. The circumstances surrounding the formation of teeth while the baby is the in the womb can play a big role in oral care later. Toronto’s International Association for Dental Research published a study linking a pregnant mother’s intake of vitamin D during pregnancy to the oral health of the baby. The study found that mothers who were deficient in vitamin D during the teeth formation phase were more likely to have children with tooth enamel defects. With that in mind, the very first step towards taking care of your child’s teeth is to eat a well-balanced diet and consistently take a high-quality prenatal vitamin.

Oral care from birth to six months

Although a baby’s first tooth doesn’t emerge until around six months of age, it is still important to clean your baby’s mouth. However, you won’t need a brush at first. Simply take a clean, damp washcloth and wipe your baby’s gums. While this gentle cleansing can be done daily, take care to avoid excessive pressure. Wiping down the gums will help to clean the mouth and remove bacteria.

Once teething begins, your baby’s gums are likely to become inflamed, more red, and sensitive to the touch. Offering your baby a chilled teether is one way to soothe those tender gums.

How to care for baby’s first tooth

Even when your baby’s first tooth pops in, you can trade in the washcloth or gum cleaning brush for a children’s toothbrush. The optimal brush for an infant is a soft-bristled brush with a small head. As many children’s sizes are available, be sure to check the suggested age on the package and choose accordingly. Even a brush meant for an older child can be too big for an infant’s small mouth.

  • Use a training toothpaste: these pastes do not contain fluoride and are often in children-friendly flavors like berry or bubblegum
  • Apply a thin smear of toothpaste and gently brush the tooth and the gums.
  • Brush twice each day to instill good habits.
  • Avoid sugary foods and drinks, including undiluted juice.

When to schedule a baby’s first dentist appointment

Most dentists recommend scheduling a child’s first dentist appointment after his/her first tooth comes in, usually around six months of age. This is important as preventative care can help manage any potential problems promptly. Please note that Dupont Dental does not see children until they are three years old because this is the age when children can typically fully understand and cooperate. We always recommend seeing a pediatric dentist if your child needs to be seen sooner. If you need to have additional questions, feel free to call us at 202.296.7714 or email us at dupontdental@gmail.com.

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