Dental caries are largely preventable.
Yet, 42 percent of children two to 11 suffer from tooth decay or cavities in their primary teeth. Additionally, 21 percent of children six to 11 have dental caries in their permanent teeth, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
What is more alarming is that 23 percent of these children have untreated dental caries. The latter statistic is most common in African American and Hispanic children and those living in lower-income families.
Regular dental check-ups at least twice a year are necessary to prevent cavities. However, according to the American Dental Association, only 64.6 percent of children visit the Honolulu dentist every six months. Still, only 20.3 percent visit at least once a year. As well as this, 4.4 percent of children go to the dentist only once every two to three years. However one out of 10 Hawaii children, or 10.7 percent, have not paid the dentist a visit in the last few years.
Dental visits, however, are critical as dentists can help individuals of all ages detect early signs of tooth decay.
In fact, tooth decay starts with a facultatively anaerobic, gram-positive coccus called Streptococcus mutans. This bacteria strain is commonly found in the oral cavity. And unfortunately, they are a significant contributor to dental caries. These bacteria produce harmful acid which diminish calcium in the teeth and causes the collapse of the tooth’s surface, forming a cavity. The bacteria also lead to plaque buildup on teeth and erosion of the teeth’s enamel.
Proper care of the teeth is critical, especially among children. Surprisingly, tooth decay is more common than asthma by five times and seven times more common than hay fever. Establishing a proper oral health routine at a young age will help in preventing the higher potential for oral health issues in adulthood.
Aside from regular check-ups, these teeths can help you child avoid cavities:
Limit the use of baby bottles to breast milk or formula only.
Do not give your child a bottle of juice or other sugary beverages. The greater the exposure to sugar, the worse it will be for your child’s tooth development. Sugar causes bacteria to generate acid which is harmful to the tooth enamel.
Avoid sharing utensils with your child because this can transfer oral bacteria.
Babies are born without harmful bacteria in their mouth. That said, introducing an unhealthy amount of bacteria to your baby’s oral tract at an early age via shared utensils is not safe.
Do not let your child sleep with a bottle.
The longer a liquid sits in your baby’s mouth, the higher the possibility of suffering from dental caries. It is best that if you give your child a bottle before bed that you gently wipe your child’s gums with a wet washcloth before putting them to sleep.
Once your child is older, opt for cups instead of baby bottles for beverages, especially for sweet ones.
Because bottles sit longer in the mouth, they provide more chances for tooth decay. On the other hand, cups do quite the opposite, especially with straws.
Prepare healthy foods like vegetables for your child.
After all, many sources of vitamins and minerals necessary for the development of robust and healthy teeth are found in veggies. It is recommended that sugar intake is limited as well. Eating healthy and well-balanced diet as early as childhood will be helpful in getting your child to acquire healthier eating habits.
The use of fluoride toothpaste is also a preventive measure against dental caries. However, the amount of toothpaste must not be more than what is recommended. Check the toothpaste packaging. This usually contains instructions on the proper amount for children and adults.
Primary teeth are not permanent. Nevertheless, they play a significant role in the development of the permanent teeth. Not only do they play a temporary role in helping a child eat and speak, but they also help guide how the permanent teeth grow in the mouth.
As soon as possible, help your children establish good oral hygiene. Additionally, allow them to get familiar with the dentist by scheduling visits twice a year. Most imporantly, ensure your child has a trustworthy, caring dentist that will ensure your child will make positive associations with oral hygiene.