The tooth decay process: how to reverse it and avoid a cavity


When should I schedule my child"s first trip lớn the dentist? Should my 3-year-old be flossing? How vì I know if my child needs braces?

Many parents have a tough time judging how much dental care their kids need. They know they want to lớn prevent cavities, but they don"t always know the best way to vày so. Here are some tips and guidelines.

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When Should Kids Start Brushing Their Teeth?

Good dental care begins before a baby"s first tooth appears. Just because you can"t see the teeth doesn"t mean they aren"t there. Teeth actually begin to form in the second trimester of pregnancy. At birth, your baby has trăng tròn primary teeth, some of which are fully developed in the jaw.

Here"s when & how to care for those little choppers:

When your baby gets teeth, brush them with an infant toothbrush. Use water và a tiny bit of fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice). Use fluoride toothpaste that carries the American Dental Association"s (ADA) seal of acceptance. (If you are using baby toothpaste without the fluoride, keep it to the same amount because you still want to minimize any toothpaste that is swallowed.) When two of your baby"s teeth touch, you can begin flossing between them. Around age 2, your child should learn khổng lồ spit while brushing. Avoid giving your child water khổng lồ swish & spit because this can make swallowing toothpaste more likely. Kids ages 3 & up should use only a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Always supervise kids younger than 8 while brushing, as they"re likely to swallow toothpaste.

Even babies can get tooth decay. Putting a baby to lớn sleep with a bottle can harm a baby"s teeth. Sugars from juice, formula, or milk that stay on a baby"s teeth for hours can eat away at the enamel (the layer of the tooth that protects against tooth decay). This can lead to lớn "bottle mouth" or "baby bottle tooth decay." When this happens, the front teeth can get discolored, pocked, and pitted. Cavities might khung and, in severe cases, the decayed teeth might need lớn be pulled.

When kids are 6 months old, they can switch from a bottle khổng lồ a sippy cup (with a straw or hard spout). This helps prevent liquid from pooling around a child"s teeth. By their first birthday, they"ll have the motor skills & coordination to lớn use the cup on their own.

When Should Kids See a Dentist?

The ADA recommends that children see adentist by their first birthday. At this first visit, the dentist will explain proper brushing và flossing techniques & do a modified exam while your baby sits on your lap.

These visits can help find problems early & help kids get used lớn visiting the dentist so they"ll have less fear about going as they get older. Consider taking your child khổng lồ a dentist who specializes in treating kids. Pediatric dentists are trained to handle the wide range of issues associated with kids" dental health. They also know when khổng lồ refer you lớn a different type of specialist, such as an orthodontist khổng lồ correct an overbite or an oral surgeon for jaw realignment.

If a child seems to lớn be at risk for cavities or other problems, the dentist may start applying topical fluoride even before all teeth come in (this also can be done in the pediatrician"s office). Fluoride hardens the tooth enamel, helping lớn ward off the most common childhood oral disease — dental cavities (also called dental caries).


How Can We Prevent Cavities?

Cavities happen when bacteria và food left on the teeth after eating are not brushed away. Acid collects on a tooth, softening its enamel until a hole — or cavity — forms.


Here"s how lớn keep cavities away:

Start good oral habits early. Teach kids khổng lồ brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste và to floss regularly. Limit or avoid some foods.

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Sugary foods, juices, candy (especially sticky gummy candy, gummy vitamins, or fruit leather or "roll-ups") can erode enamel and cause cavities. If your kids eat these foods, have them rinse their mouth or brush their teeth after eating to lớn wash away the sugar. The same goes for taking sweetened liquid medicines: always have kids rinse or brush afterward.

As your child"s permanent teeth grow in, the dentist can help prevent decay by applying a thin wash of resin (called a sealant) to the back teeth, where most chewing is done. This protective coating keeps bacteria from settling in the hard-to-reach crevices of the molars. But make sure that kids know that sealants aren"t a replacement for good brushing & regular flossing.

What Dental Problems Can Happen?

If you are prone khổng lồ tooth decay or gum disease, your kids might be at higher risk as well. So sometimes even the best brushing và flossing habits can"t prevent a cavity. Be sure to hotline your dentist if your child complains of tooth pain, which could be a sign of a cavity that needs treatment.

New materials mean pediatric dentists have more filling và repair options than ever. A silver-colored material called amalgam (a special set of metals) was once the substance of choice for most fillings in permanent teeth. But now,other materials lượt thích composite resins are becoming popular. Resins bond to the teeth so the filling won"t pop out, & also can be used lớn rebuild teeth damaged through injury or conditions lượt thích a cleft palate. Because resins are often tooth-colored, they"re considered more attractive.

But in cases of fracture, extensive decay, or malformation of baby teeth, dentists often opt for stainless steel or ceramic crowns. Crowns maintain the tooth while preventing the decay from spreading.

In some rare instances, usually when a more complicated dental procedure is to lớn be done, a dentist will recommend using general anesthesia. Parents should make sure that the professional who gives the medicine is a trained anesthesiologist or oral surgeon before agreeing to lớn the procedure. Don"t be afraid ask your dentist questions.

Regular checkups & good dental hygiene can help prevent the need for this kind of extensive dental work. Also, encourage your kids to lớn use a mouthguard during sports, which can prevent serious dental injuries.

What Is Orthodontia?

As kids get older, their bite & the straightness of their teeth can become an issue. Orthodontic treatment begins earlier now than it used to, and braces have changed too. The embarrassing old gear — a mouth filled with metal wires & braces — is in the past. Kids as young as age 7 now wear corrective appliances, & plastic-based (sometimes clear) materials have replaced metal.

Orthodontists know that manipulation of teeth at a younger age can be easier and more effective in the long run. Younger children"s teeth can be positioned with fairly minor orthodontic devices, preventing major treatment later on.

Looking Ahead

As kids grow, plan on routine dental checkups anywhere from once every 3 months khổng lồ once a year, depending on your dentist"s recommendations. Keeping sugary foods in check, encouraging regular brushing và flossing, and working with your dentist will lead good dental health.