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Children are incredibly susceptible to developing tooth decay. This is why pediatric dentistry focuses on preventing and treating tooth decay as early as possible to help preserve and protect oral tissue. Without treatment, tooth decay can develop into a systemic health issue. Studies have shown that untreated tooth decay among children can affect speech development, produce noticeable discomfort, and lead to chronic oral infections.

Tooth decay is caused by a specific strain of bacteria that eat through the surfaces of teeth when tooth enamel is damaged. Dental caries (cavities) are the second-most common infectious disease. Cavities are considered an infectious disease because the bacteria that eat through teeth are orally transmitted – normally from parents to infants.

What damages tooth enamel?

Tooth enamel is a mineralized coating around teeth that protects the softer structures of teeth from decay and breakage. Even though tooth enamel is very strong, it can be damaged by exposure to strong acid and bad habits like improper oral hygiene or bruxism (clenching and grinding teeth).

How do bacteria affect teeth?

Cavities form when bacteria eat through tooth structure. This is only possible when tooth enamel cannot protect teeth due to damage. Once tooth enamel is permanently damaged, the dentin part of teeth is exposed. Dentin is much softer than the enamel surface of teeth. Since it is softer, cavity-causing bacteria will eat through teeth and eventually form a depression in tooth structure if a tooth is not professionally treated with a restoration.

What treatment methods are available?

While pediatric dentistry involves focusing on prevention, cavities can still form on teeth. If tooth decay is detected, a dentist will recommend a restoration. This is because a tooth cannot heal on its own once permanently damaged. A restoration involves placing a durable material over the decayed area of a tooth so that its external structure is protected from further damage. A restoration will prevent a cavity from deepening and widening, too. It is important to treat decay as soon as possible so that patients can retain healthy biological tooth structure.

Call our team at Fort Worth Children’s Dentistry today to reserve a checkup at our family-friendly practice.

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Brushing your teeth is important at any age, including during one’s childhood. A child is very susceptible to developing dental caries (tooth decay) due to modern diets having too much sugar and inadequate oral hygiene. While brushing is important, brushing incorrectly does harm, too. Our children’s dentist offers preventive and restorative services through checkups, cleanings, and oral health education. Following are common bad brushing habits patients should avoid.

Brushing Too Hard

In many cases, the more vigorous one scrubs the cleaner something becomes, such as tough stains on dishes or floors. With teeth, however, vigorous brushing leads to damaging tooth enamel. Damaged tooth enamel compromises the health of teeth by exposing the softer, internal structures to cavity-causing bacteria. When brushing, it is best to use soft, circular and back-and-forth strokes. Brushing thoroughly but softly is the most effective way to clean teeth and gums.

Forgetting to Replace Your Toothbrush

Did you know that you should replace your toothbrush or electronic brush heads about every three months? Keeping a toothbrush too long is a bad habit. When bristles are frayed, they cannot effectively clean oral surfaces. Moreover, bacteria collect on the bristles of a toothbrush over time. An easy way to remember to change toothbrushes and brush heads is to buy a new brush at the beginning of every new season.

Brushing Immediately After a Meal

While brushing after we eat is a great idea, it is not wise to brush immediately after eating. This is because bacteria feed on food particles when we eat. As a by-product, bacteria will release acid that softens tooth enamel. It is best to wait about half an hour before brushing so that tooth enamel is not damaged while in a compromised state.

Brushing too Quickly

The American Dental Association recommends brushing for about two minutes each time. Rushing through your oral hygiene routine means that surfaces will not be cleaned effectively. We recommend keeping track of time when brushing so that you increase your chances of removing as much bacteria and debris as possible.

Call our family-friendly office today to schedule a checkup or cleaning with our children’s dentist.

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Sippy cups or training cups are a mainstay in many homes where toddlers reside. They are used to transition from nursing or bottle feeding to drinking (not sucking). Your pediatric dentist will be happy to discuss this with you.

Some of the things you should know include:

The best type of cup you should begin with does not require your child to suck. Many “no-spill” cups contain a valve that prevents spills if tipped, but your child will still be sucking and not learning how to drink.  

The ideal cup will have a lid that screws or snaps on that has a small spout with little holes that will prevent too much liquid from pouring out when your child is learning to drink. 

Just as your child probably holds a baby bottle with two hands, a cup with two handles will allow your child to do the same.

Many sippy cups have a weighted bottom to keep them upright to help prevent accidental spills. 

Now that your toddler is learning to drink from a cup, keep in mind that this tiny person is still learning. Control when a sippy cup is used; don’t allow your child to walk around with one to avoid injury if a fall should occur. 

If introducing a training cup in between meals, this should be in a controlled setting while sitting at the table, in a high chair, or maybe even in their carseat. Water is a great beverage to use as a spill is easily wiped up. 

Just as your pediatric dentist has cautioned you about juice and sugary beverages in the baby bottle, the same applies now with the sippy cup. You put your child at risk for dental decay if you give them inappropriate beverages, especially in between meals. If you are going to offer juice, do so during a meal when the act of chewing their food increases saliva production and helps to wash away the sugars on your child’s teeth. Milk is a better choice than juice. 

Make sure your toddler brushes at least twice every day; do not allow them to have anything but water after they have brushed before bed. Milk, soda, or juice can lead to cavities as sugars from these beverages can cling to teeth overnight.

Sippy cups are a great introduction for the eventual use of a regular glass. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact our team at Fort Worth Children’s Dentistry.

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