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Children and Decay/Cavities

Decay is an infection of germs (usually a streptococcus ‘strep’ germ) that use sugar to survive and produce acid that ‘eats’ through the enamel. Decay is preventable.

What about families with “soft teeth?”
Decay is totally preventable and has nothing to do with genetics/inherited problems.  There is no such thing as ‘soft teeth.’  Families in which many members have cavities have similar poor sugar and home care habits, not inherited bad teeth.

How can I prevent cavities for my children?
Oral Hygiene: For very young children, you should be the one who brushes their teeth. Be sure to brush the gum line of on the outside (lip and cheek side) and tongue side of every tooth.
Sugar:  Since you purchase the food products for your family, you should always buy sugar free pop, kool aid, gum, and breath mints.  Sports drinks and juice are very high in sugar.  NEVER give toddlers or children sippy cups or juice boxes to sip on. This exposes the teeth to sugar for long periods of time and will cause cavities.  When your toddler or child cries, don’t give them a sugary treat to soothe them. NEVER PUT A BABY OR TODDLER TO BED WITH A BOTTLE WITH ANYTHING BUT WATER IN IT.  EVEN MILK WILL CAUSE CAVITIES. (See the American Dental Association web site www.ada.org for information regarding ‘baby bottle mouth syndrome.’)

What about sweet treats?
The sugar that causes decay is sugar that we have 1. In-between meals 2. Exposes our teeth to sugar for long periods of time and 3. That we tend to do every day.  Gum, pop, sports/energy drinks, and breath mints are what cause the most cavities. Eating dessert does not cause cavities. An occasional treat like a cookie or piece of candy will not cause cavities.

If my child has a cavity problem what can I do?
Always have the sugar-free variety of pop, gum, and breath mints. Stay away from sippy cups and juice boxes and sports/energy drinks. Be sure that they are brushing their gum lines very thoroughly. Have their teeth cleaned and checked, fluoride treatments, and sealants placed by the dentist or hygienist.  Use fluoride toothpaste. 

At what age should my child first be seen at the dentist?
The ADA recommends that a dentist examine a child within six months of the eruption of the first tooth and no later than the first birthday. A dental visit at an early age is a "well baby checkup" for the teeth. Besides checking for tooth decay and other problems, the dentist can demonstrate how to clean the child's teeth properly and how to evaluate any adverse habits such as thumb sucking.

Are artificial sweeteners safe?
Yes. Go to the medical web site www.webmd.com or the American Dental Association web site www.ada.org for the truth about sweeteners.

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