Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Children's dental cavities are preventable

Dr. Mark Librach on Daytime Durham March 9, 2017

                                                    click here to see the full program

What does decay look like?
Although decay may appear as a discolouration or a pitted appearance on a tooth, it is actually diagnosed by feel using a sharp instrument called an explorer.  Decay will present itself as a “sticky” pit on a tooth when examined with a dental explorer.  In addition, dental x-rays can help diagnose decay in areas our instruments can’t reach, specifically the surfaces between teeth.

What is preventive dental care for children?
Preventative dental care in children includes brushing at least twice a day. The most important time for brushing is right before bed.  The second most important time is right after breakfast in the morning.  This applies to adults as well. Flossing 2-3 times a week is also important.  Parents should be active participants in their child’s oral health.  They should promote the child’s attempt to brush their own teeth and fill in the gaps for a thorough cleaning.  When it comes to flossing, the duty will fall to the parents.  Parents should also lead by example by taking care of their own oral health in front of their children.

At what age should I first take my child to the dentist? 
An infant should be seen by a dentist when their first tooth erupts and no later than one year of age.  The rational behind this early approach is to get the child’s oral health off to good start and to educate parents as to the best methods of keeping their children healthy with respect to their teeth.  

Is it necessary for me to clean or brush my baby's teeth?
Absolutely!  Tooth decay can start immediately after a tooth erupts in the mouth so oral hygiene must start immediately.  At first, baby teeth can be cleaned with a clean damp terry cloth. As the child matures, a specifically designed baby toothbrush can be used.

What is "Baby Bottle Tooth Decay"?
Baby bottle tooth decay is a completely preventable tragedy that is brought on by lack of oral health education.  It is most commonly caused by infants being put to sleep with baby bottles that contain milk or juice.  As the child pacifies itself with the nipple on the bottle, the acidity form the juice or milk bathes the teeth breaking down the enamel and causing rampant decay.

What is fluoride and does my child need fluoride treatments?
Fluoride is a natural mineral that is derived from the earths crust. It is sometimes naturally found in water supplies but many jurisdictions have added fluoride to drinking water as a matter of public health to help prevent tooth decay. It is also found in foods and is the main cavity-preventing ingredient in toothpastes.  In addition, your dentist may include topical fluoride treatments as part routine oral care appointments for children.  Fluorides in all these forms help decrease the incidence of cavities.

What are sealants and should my child have them?

Sealants are plastic coatings applied to teeth to help prevent cavities.  If required, they are usually applied to the first adult molars that erupt at age six, but can also be applied to molars that erupt at age 12 also. The determination of whether to place sealants takes into consideration the cavity history of the child and the “grooviness” of the teeth.  A child that has a history of several cavities in their baby teeth and has “groovy” teeth is a prime candidate for sealants.

Dr. Mark Librach Dentistry on Dundas