Tooth Decay Prevention
Tooth decay is a progressive disease resulting from the interaction of bacteria that naturally occur on the teeth and sugars in the everyday diet. Bacteria ferments sugar and carbohydrates causing it to produce acids that break down teeth, forming a cavity. Dentists remove the decay and fill the tooth using a variety of filling materials, restoring the tooth to a healthy state. Nerve damage can result from severe decay and may require nerve therapy and a crown covering the tooth. Avoiding decay simply requires strict adherence to a dental hygiene regimen: brushing and flossing twice a day, regular dental checkups, diet control and fluoride treatment. Practicing good hygiene avoids unhealthy teeth and costly treatment.
The grooves and depressions that form the chewing surfaces of the back teeth are extremely difficult to clean of bacteria and food. As the bacteria reacts with the food, acids form and break down the tooth enamel, causing cavities.
A sealant is a resin material that is applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (molars and premolars) where decay occurs most often. This sealant acts as a barrier, protecting the decay prone areas of the teeth from plaque and acid.
Fluoride is a substance that helps teeth become stronger and resistant to decay. Regularly drinking water treated with fluoride and brushing ensures significantly lower cavities. Dentists can evaluate the level of fluoride in a primary drinking water source and recommend fluoride supplements (usually in tablets or drops), if necessary.
Sucking is a natural reflex that relaxes and comforts babies and toddlers. Children are encourgaed to stop between the ages of 2 and 4 years. Thumb sucking that persists beyond the eruption of primary teeth can cause improper growth of the mouth and misalignment of the teeth. If you notice prolonged and/or vigorous thumb sucking behavior in your child, talk to your dentist.
Here are some ways to help your child outgrow thumb sucking:
- Don’t scold a child when they exhibit thumb sucking behavior; instead, praise them when they don’t thumb suck.
- Focus on eliminating the cause of anxiety—thumb sucking is a comfort device that helps children cope with stress or discomfort.
- Praise them when they refrain from the habit during difficult periods.
- Place a bandage on the thumb or a sock on their hand at night.