9 Tips to Prevent Childhood Tooth Decay
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Tooth Decay is More Common Than You Think
Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among children.
Frequently asked questions
What should I do if my child has a toothache?
A toothache can stem from a number of factors. Often, the toothache is caused by a cavity or an injury to the tooth – both situations may require dental treatment.
If your child has a toothache or trauma (injury) to a tooth, please contact your dentist as soon as possible so your child can be evaluated and proper steps can be taken to address your child’s specific dental needs.
Why should I fill cavities on baby teeth?
There are two reasons why restoring cavities on baby teeth is important.
(1) Untreated decay in a single tooth can harbor bacteria which can affect nearby teeth and, if left untreated, may affect the permanent tooth developing beneath the baby tooth. This can lead to pain, infection, tooth loss and gum disease and other serious health conditions.
(2) In addition, baby teeth fulfill very important growth functions for kids. They help children develop proper chewing habits, speech and, most importantly, they hold the space for developing adult teeth. If kids lose baby teeth prematurely due to cavities, this may impact the ability of the adult teeth to come in (“erupt”) and create a future complications with tooth alignment and function – potentially requiring orthodontic care to correct.
What is a dental sealant and who should get it?
A dental sealant is a thin, plastic coating applied to teeth with ridges and grooves, typically the molar teeth. Bacteria and bits of food can collect in the pits and cracks—or fissures—in the teeth. These are areas where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. A sealant helps protect the chewing surfaces of adult molars against decay.
Sealants are recommended for children with high risk of decay as soon as adult molars come in, or “erupt.” Sealants are typically placed on the six-year and twelve-year molars. Dental sealants can partially wear off or come away over time, so it is important to keep up with regular dental visits so that the dentist can monitor wear and reapply as necessary.
Sealants are recommended by dentists because they are extremely effective. In fact, the CDC recently found that sealants prevent 80 percent of cavities in molars. Many cavities occur in molars, so protecting those teeth is critical.