Posts for tag: tooth decay
Protecting a child's primary (“baby”) teeth from tooth decay should be a top priority. If one is lost prematurely due to decay, it could cause the permanent tooth to misalign when it comes in.
The basic prevention strategy for every child is daily brushing and flossing and regular dental visits. But children at higher risk for decay may need more: Â additional fluoride applied to teeth enamel during office visits.
This natural mineral has been shown to strengthen enamel, teeth's protective layer against decay, especially during its early development. Enamel is composed of calcium and phosphate minerals interwoven to form a crystalline structure called hydroxyapatite. Fluoride joins with this structure and changes it to fluorapatite, which is more resistant to mouth acid than the original structure.
We mostly receive fluoride through fluoridated drinking water and dental care products like toothpaste. Topical fluoride takes it a step further with a stronger dose than found in either of these sources. It can be applied with a foam, varnish or gel using an isolation tray (foam or gel) or painted onto the enamel (varnish or gel).
But does topical fluoride effectively reduce the occurrence of decay? Research indicates yes: a recent review of 28 studies involving over 9,000 children found an average 28% reduction in decayed teeth in children who underwent topical fluoride treatments.
There is, though, one potential side effect: children who swallow the fluoride substance can become sick and experience headache, stomach pain or vomiting. This can be avoided with proper precautions when applying it; the American Dental Association also recommends using only varnish for children younger than 6 years. It's also recommended that children receiving gel or foam not eat or drink at least thirty minutes after the treatment (those who receive the varnish aren't restricted in this way).
Topical fluoride is most effective as part of an overall prevention strategy. Besides daily hygiene and regular dental visits, you can also help reduce your child's decay risk by limiting the amount of sugar in their diet. Sealants, which are applied to the nooks and grooves of teeth where plaque can build up, may also help.
Cavities can happen even before a baby has his first piece of candy. This was the difficult lesson actor David Ramsey of the TV shows Arrow and Dexter learned when his son DJ’s teeth were first emerging.
“His first teeth came in weak,” Ramsey recalled in a recent interview. “They had brown spots on them and they were brittle.” Those brown spots, he said, quickly turned into cavities. How did this happen?
Ramsey said DJ’s dentist suspected it had to do with the child’s feedings — not what he was being fed but how. DJ was often nursed to sleep, “so there were pools of breast milk that he could go to sleep with in his mouth,” Ramsey explained.
While breastfeeding offers an infant many health benefits, problems can occur when the natural sugars in breast milk are left in contact with teeth for long periods. Sugar feeds decay-causing oral bacteria, and these bacteria in turn release tooth-eroding acids. The softer teeth of a young child are particularly vulnerable to these acids; the end result can be tooth decay.
This condition, technically known as “early child caries,” is referred to in laymen’s terms as “baby bottle tooth decay.” However, it can result from nighttime feedings by bottle or breast. The best way to prevent this problem is to avoid nursing babies to sleep at night once they reach the teething stage; a bottle-fed baby should not be allowed to fall asleep with anything but water in their bottle or “sippy cup.”
Here are some other basics of infant dental care that every parent should know:
- Wipe your baby’s newly emerging teeth with a clean, moist washcloth after feedings.
- Brush teeth that have completely grown in with a soft-bristled, child-size toothbrush and a smear of fluoride toothpaste no bigger than a grain of rice.
- Start regular dental checkups by the first birthday.
Fortunately, Ramsey reports that his son is doing very well after an extended period of professional dental treatments and parental vigilance.
“It took a number of months, but his teeth are much, much better,” he said. “Right now we’re still helping him and we’re still really on top of the teeth situation.”
If you would like more information on dental care for babies and toddlers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “The Age One Dental Visit” and “Dentistry & Oral Health for Children.”
A toothache can be extremely uncomfortable, making it difficult for you to speak or eat. Even brushing your teeth or drinking water can cause pain to shoot through your tooth, sending you to your dentist for relief. If you've been told that a root canal is necessary, you might be concerned about more pain associated with this procedure. The reality is that root canals don't cause pain; they help to alleviate it so you can eat, drink and talk with ease again. Dr. Joseph Zaky, your dentist in Yorktown Heights, NY, explains why a root canal is the answer to your dental pain.
What is a root canal?
Root canals, also known as endodontic therapy, are utilized when a cavity progresses beyond the outer enamel of a tooth and begins to infiltrate the inner tissues. Most patients won't realize this until the decay reaches the nerves inside the tooth, at which point pain becomes noticeable and often does not respond to medication. Your Yorktown Heights dentist uses specialized tools to clear the infection out of the tooth by removing the affected tissues and nerves, leaving the tooth painless and intact but hollow. A strong rubber material is used to fill the empty space and a porcelain or metal crown is placed to keep the outside of the tooth stable.
Why do so many people assume root canals are painful?
Like most medical procedures, root canals had to start out as primitive and painful before the associated tools, techniques and medications were researched and fine-tuned. Unfortunately, root canals are one of the few procedures that have retained the reputation they had a hundred years ago, but the reality is that their bad reputation is based on opinion rather than fact. People who haven't had a root canal assume it is painful, while patients who have undergone endodontic therapy are almost universally surprised at how easy and comfortable the process is. If you're still feeling nervous, your Yorktown Heights dentist can provide you with sedatives to make you relaxed during your procedure.
Visit Dr. Zaky in Yorktown Heights, NY, to find out why root canals are helpful rather than harmful. Give us a call to schedule an appointment today!