February is National Children’s Dental Health Month and because of that, we’d like to focus on a serious and chronic childhood disease: Tooth Decay. “Tooth decay remains the most common chronic childhood disease, and it’s through educational programs and prevention that we can eliminate the needless pain and suffering of so many children,” said American Dental Association’s (ADA) previous president, Daniel J. Klemmedson, D.D.S., M.D., as cited by ADA’s Jennifer Garvin. In other words, tooth decay in children is a HUGE deal, and definite steps need to be taken to prevent it! We have summarized ADA’s top recommendations about childhood tooth decay in order to help prevent this destructive childhood disease.
What Exactly is Tooth Decay?
According to the ADA Mouth Health article “Tooth Decay,” it is the destruction of your tooth enamel, or the hard, outer layer of your teeth. It begins with plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, that constantly forms on your teeth. When you consume foods or drinks that contain sugars, the bacteria in the plaque produce acids that attack tooth enamel. Furthermore, the stickiness of the plaque keeps these acids in contact with your teeth, causing the enamel to break down over time. This is precisely when cavities can form.
Tips to Prevent Childhood Tooth Decay:
The above ADA Mouth Health article “Tooth Decay,” recommends the following tips to prevent tooth decay.
- Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Clean between your teeth daily with floss.
- Eat nutritious and balanced meals and limit snacking.
- Check with your dentist about the use of supplemental fluoride, which strengthens your teeth.
- Check with your dentist about the use of sealants (a protective coating) applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (where decay often starts) to protect them from decay.
- Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral examinations.
We at Boulevard Dental can’t say enough about the importance of fluoride in protecting your children’s teeth. According to the ADA article, “The Superhero that Lives Inside Your Mouth,” fluoride is a natural mineral. The ADA “Mouth Healthy Fluoride Quiz” adds that it helps to both repair the early stages of tooth decay even before decay can be observed by rebuilding weakened tooth enamel, and to prevent cavities by making teeth more resistant to the acid attacks that cause cavities. In other words—fluoride is really powerful in preventing tooth decay!
Sources of Fluoride:
- Water Fluoridation
- Fluoridated Toothpaste
- Mouthwash with Fluoride
- Topical Fluoride
- Fluoride Supplement
**For more information on these fluoride treatments, see our previous blog entitled, “Fluoride: What You Always Wanted to Know.”
Sealants are also key to protecting your children from childhood tooth decay. Did you know that school age children without sealants are almost three times more likely to have cavities than those with sealants, says a report from the Centers for Disease Control sited in an ADA online article entitled, “Sealants”? This online article explains that sealants are a thin, protective coating that are placed on the chewing surfaces of teeth (usually molars). And according to the ADA’s 2009 “Sealants: Quick Reference,” sealants are resin bonding that seal the pits and grooves of the teeth and act as a barrier to protect enamel from plaque and acids that can cause cavities. It is also best to apply sealants as soon as a child’s permanent molars come through their gums, says the ADA online article “5 Questions to Ask at Your Child’s Back-to-School Dental Visit.” This usually occurs around age 6, and then again around age 12.
**For more information on sealants, see our previous blog entitled, “Sealants: Are Your Child’s Teeth Protected?”
We at Boulevard Dental want to help prevent the serious childhood disease of tooth decay before it ever occurs. Good oral health care combined with the use of fluoride and sealants on your children’s teeth, as well as regular dental check-ups, can do much to prevent childhood tooth decay. Contact us or another dentist local to you to ensure you and your child are doing all you can to avoid needless pain and suffering!
5 Questions to Ask at Your Child’s Back-to-School Dental Visit. Mouth Healthy.
Garvin, Jennifer. National Children’s Dental Health Month turns 80. ADA News. February 01, 2021. https://www.ada.org/publications/ada-news/2021/february/ncdhm-turns-80. Accessed February 3, 2023.
Mouth Healthy Flouride Quiz. Mouth Healthy.
Sealants. Mouth Healthy. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/s/sealants. Accessed February 3, 2023.
Sealants: Quick Reference. 2009. American Dental Association.
The Superhero That Lives Inside Your Mouth. Mouth Healthy.
Tooth Decay. Mouth Healthy. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/all-topics-a-z/tooth-decay. Accessed February 3, 2023.