Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Brushing Up on Tooth Decay
It takes more than brushing to maintain a healthy mouth.
(NewsUSA) - You teach your kids to brush their teeth, yet every trip to the dentist could reveal another cavity. But don't fret. You're not doing anything wrong -- children can still develop dental cavities, or areas where harmful bacteria damage hard tooth structure, in spite of every precaution. In fact, tooth decay remains the most common chronic condition in children and adolescents.
"Kids have very special oral care needs, and are much more likely than adults to form cavities," says Dr. Jeffrey Hillman, D.M.D., Ph.D., chief scientific officer of Oragenics, Inc. For one thing, children tend to like sugary foods, which make them more likely to develop cavities. But sugar does not cause cavities directly -- sugar feeds the bad bacteria that cause tooth decay.
Brushing can help prevent tooth decay by removing plaque, or buildup of bad bacteria, but it's not a perfect technique. For one thing, it only takes 20 minutes after eating to develop plaque, and few children brush and floss immediately after eating. Also, brushing can't remove plaque from between teeth. To fight plaque between teeth, parents should floss their children's teeth at least once a day until about age 10, when children can start flossing for themselves.
In addition to daily brushing and flossing, oral care probiotics, or "good" bacteria, may help. Dr. Hillman recommends giving children an oral care probiotic supplement, such as EvoraKids (www.myevorakids.com). He explains that oral care probiotics work by flooding the mouth with good bacteria, which adhere to tooth surfaces, including crevices, pits and fissures in the chewing surfaces, leaving less room for bad bacteria to grow. "The probiotics effectively compete with certain harmful bacteria for both nutrients and space on teeth surfaces, reaching where brushing and flossing can't," says Dr. Hillman.
Despite all of your best efforts at home, a trip to the dentist can still do wonders. Regularly scheduled dentist checkups are critical to any healthy mouth. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents take their children to the dentist by age one