Over the years, advancements in medical technology and further study into dental practices have revealed a great deal more about oral hygiene than was taught when you were a child. Believe it or not, most of what you original knew or thought you knew about cavities, their formation, and treating them is no longer true. If you truly want to be effective at keeping your children’s teeth free of cavities, however, you’ll want to check out these facts about children’s dental health.
Cavities are Caused By Bacteria
Some adults may remember the days in elementary school when they would pour acid onto plaster to demonstrate how sugar-made acid eats at teeth. This, however, is not the whole story. A special bacteria in the mouth eats the sugar, then produces the acid that eats at the enamel. The more bacteria your mouth has, the more acid they produce. Eating less sugar can help you get rid of these bacteria by starving them out. Flossing and brushing immediately after eating or drinking something sugary can remove sugar from the teeth and help dislodge or starve the bacteria. Be warned, though, that this bacteria is not native to your mouth and is contagious.
Cavities in Baby Teeth Can Affect Permanent Teeth
Even though your children may not think that cavities in their baby teeth are particularly harmful since they will eventually fall out, their permanent teeth can still be affected. Cavities may cause baby teeth to fall out too soon and create difficulties for permanent teeth to come in properly. Baby teeth serve as placeholders for permanent teeth and can cause alignment problems if the baby teeth are lost too soon. If your children’s permanent teeth end up coming in crooked, they may need to get braces. Allowing cavities to foster also creates a perfect breeding ground for the bacteria that causes them. Even when the baby tooth is gone, the bacteria will remain and increase the chances of more cavities in the future.
Re-mineralization Can Heal Teeth
If a cavity is fairly new and hasn’t penetrated deep into the tooth’s enamel, it can possibly be repaired with re-mineralization. Certain toothpastes are formulated to replenish lost tooth minerals to strengthen teeth. Brushing teeth thoroughly and eliminating sugary snacks and beverages can also promote re-mineralization. Keeping your teeth clean allows the minerals in your saliva to reach your teeth and maintain the re-mineralization process. During a child’s dental exam, the dentist can assess the extent of any cavities and determine if they can be repaired with re-mineralization, or if they should be cleaned and filled to protect the nerves inside.
Plaque Causes More Gum Sensitivity than Cavities
While plaque can be scary, it is only a problem if you have cavity-causing bacteria already present in your mouth. Even then, unless the plaque is built from or trapping sugar in your mouth, the only serious issue it poses to your teeth is blocking saliva from re-mineralizing the enamel. The real threat it poses is to your gums. Plaque along the gum line can trap bacteria against your gums and create gaps between your tooth and gum line. These gaps can become infected and grow deeper. This is why flossing is so important; to keep plaque off of your gums. Flossing too hard or too frequently can damage the gums as well, however, and should focus more on dislodging stuck food or plaque collections for your toothbrush to get at.
You and your kids can work together to combat cavities so that their teeth can be strong and healthy for life. By teaching your children more about cavities, they will better understand the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene. Knowing the truth about what causes them and how to treat them will also make them more knowledgeable in their hygiene practices. Be aware of the advances in oral hygiene, and you will be able to help your children maintain a healthy set of teeth to last their entire lives.