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Posts for tag: tooth decay

Expectant mothers expect to deal with tooth-related milestones in their child's early years, such as teething and even the eventual shedding of those baby teeth to the Tooth Fairy. But there are many facets of children's oral health that may not be as well known. For example, did you know that using sugary fluids in your baby's bottle too frequently could promote constant acid production in your child's mouth leading to early childhood decay? Did you know that parents and caregivers who have decay transmit the bacteria that cause decay to their children?

Baby or primary teeth serve as guides for permanent teeth and, therefore, their health sets the stage for the health and proper function of their permanent successors. A comprehensive examination during a child's first visit can help uncover any underlying conditions that might be indicative of future problems, like tooth decay that can start as early as the age of six months when their first teeth appear. So the “Age One Visit” is the right time for a first dental visit.

What else do you know or want to know? Take our short quiz to help your child. The answers are listed at the bottom of this article.

The Quiz

  1. Mounting evidence suggests that a child's oral health is most closely tied to which relative?
    1. Mother
    2. Father
    3. Brother
    4. Sister
  2. Parents should bring their children to see a pediatric dentist:
    1. Once they turn two?
    2. Before they start kindergarten?
    3. Preferably before their first birthday?
    4. When they start to lose their baby teeth?
  3. Tooth decay that occurs in infants and young children is referred to as what?
    1. Primary tooth decay
    2. Early Childhood Caries
    3. Diapers to Decay Disease
    4. Pediatric Dental Caries Syndrome
  4. To help diminish the likelihood that your baby/infant will develop a cavity, you should:
    1. Restrict the amount of sugary fluids your child drinks to mealtimes
    2. Maintain proper oral hygiene to reduce harmful bacteria
    3. Use fluoride to make the teeth more resistant to acid attack
    4. All of the above
  5. Infants are most susceptible to tooth decay when:
    1. Breast feeding
    2. Drinking milk from a bottle during meal times
    3. Sucking on a pacifier that has been dipped in jam
    4. Sleeping on their sides

The Answers

1) a = mother 2) c = before their first birthday 3) b = early childhood caries 4) d = all of the above 5) c = sucking on a pacifier that has been dipped in jam

Your baby's first visit to the dentist will cover a lot of ground, including diagnosis, prevention, education, and treatment as we help start him or her on the path to long-lasting oral and dental health. Call our office to schedule an appointment now. You can also learn more about pediatric tooth decay by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Age One Dental Visit — Why It's Important For Your Baby.”

By Steven R. Gluck, D.D.S.
August 28, 2011
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   tooth decay   chewing gum   xylitol  
  1. Xylitol is a kind of sugar.
    True or False
  2. Xylitol is made from
    1. Bark of birch trees
    2. Coconut shells
    3. Cottonseed hulls
    4. All of the above
  3. Xylitol is a natural “sugar alcohol” similar to other so-called sugar alcohols such as mannitol and sorbitol.
    True or False
  4. Xylitol is broken down by decay-causing bacteria to produce acid.
    True or False
  5. Decay-causing bacteria are transmitted from a parent to a child through oral contact such as a simple lip-to-lip goodnight kiss.
    True or False
  6. Researchers have found no difference in prevention of tooth decay in gum made from xylitol compared to gums containing sorbitol/xylitol and sucrose.
    True or False
  7. Other xylitol products such as mints, candy and cookies also seem to decrease the incidence of tooth decay.
    True or False
  8. Xylitol products increase salivary flow and allow saliva to neutralize acids in your mouth.
    True or False
  9. The only side effect of too much xylitol ingestion is a possible mild laxative effect.
    True or False
  10. The target dose of xylitol is one to two teaspoons spread throughout the day.
    True or False
Answers:
  1. True. Xylitol is a kind of sugar that does not contribute to tooth decay.
  2. All of the above. It is also found naturally in some fruits and vegetables.
  3. True. The others, mannitol and sorbitol, are used as sugarless sweeteners.
  4. False. Unlike sucrose (table sugar), xylitol is NOT broken down by bacteria to produce acid. Xylitol also stops saliva from becoming acidic so your mouth becomes an unfriendly environment to acid-producing bacteria.
  5. True. However, xylitol inhibits growth and attachment of the bacteria to your teeth, so it also inhibits transmission to your children.
  6. False. Systematic use of xylitol chewing gum significantly reduces the relative risk of caries (tooth decay) when compared to chewing gums containing sorbitol/xylitol and sucrose. Xylitol gum also appears to halt the development of tiny cavities when compared to other types of chewing gum.
  7. True. Use of these products seems to stop the progression of active decay.
  8. True. Xylitol and your saliva combine to re-mineralize (harden) your teeth after an acid attack.
  9. True.
  10. True. This means two pieces of xylitol gum or two pieces of xylitol candy or mints should be consumed for five minutes four times a day after eating meals or snacks.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about xylitol and other methods of preventing tooth decay. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Xylitol in Chewing Gum.”

By Steven R. Gluck, D.D.S.
July 24, 2011
Category: Oral Health

A number of factors can lead to dental caries (tooth decay). To find out if you are at high risk, ask yourself these questions.

Is plaque visible in my mouth?
Dental plaque is a whitish film of bacteria that collects on your teeth. If it is clearly visible, it means that there is a lot of it. Among the bacteria in the plaque are those that produce tooth decay, particularly in an acidic environment. (A normal mouth is neutral, measured on the pH scale, midway between the extreme acidic and basic ends of the scale.)

Do I have a dry mouth?
Saliva protects your teeth against decay by neutralizing an acidic environment and adding minerals back to the outer surface of enamel of your teeth, so reduced saliva is a high risk for caries. Many medications can cause dry mouth as a side effect.

Do I eat a lot of snacks, particularly unhealthy ones?
Frequently eating sugars, refined carbohydrates, and acidic foods promotes the growth of decay-producing bacteria. The more frequently you eat, the longer your teeth are bathed in sugars and acids. Acidic foods not only promote bacterial growth, they also directly cause erosion of the tooth's hard surface by softening and dissolving the minerals in the enamel.

Do I wear retainers, orthodontic appliances, bite guards or night guards?
These appliances are recommended for various conditions, but they tend to restrict the flow of saliva over your teeth, cutting down on the benefits of saliva mentioned above.

Do my teeth have deep pits and fissures?
The shape of your teeth is determined by your heredity. If your teeth grew in with deep grooves (fissures) and pits in them, you are at higher risk for bacterial growth and resulting decay.

Do I have conditions that expose my teeth to acids?
If you have bulimia (a psychological condition in which individuals induce vomiting), or GERD (Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease), your teeth may be frequently exposed to stomach acids that can cause severe erosion to your teeth.

Do I already have cavities?
Visible cavities can range from those only visible with laser technology or x-ray examination to those a dentist can see with a naked eye. If you already have small cavities, you are at high risk for developing more.

Do I have white spots on my teeth?
White spots are often the first sign of decay in a tooth's enamel. At this point, the condition is often reversible with fluorides.

Have I had a cavity within the last three years?
Recent cavities point to a high risk of more cavities in the future, unless conditions in your mouth have significantly changed.

If you have any of these indications of high risk, contact us today and ask us for suggestions for changing the conditions in your mouth. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Decay.”

By Steven R. Gluck, D.D.S.
July 17, 2011
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: oral health   tooth decay   root canal  

While some people associate the need for root canal treatment with an injury or trauma to a tooth (which is a valid cause), it can also most commonly be caused by tooth decay that is left untreated. This is the reason why we have put together this brief guide to explain the three common stages of tooth decay that lead up to the need for a root canal.

Stage 1: During this stage, decay begins to form in the tiny grooves on the biting surface of a tooth or where the teeth contact each other. The result is loss of the surface enamel of the tooth.

Stage 2: Left untreated, the disease progresses through the enamel and into the dentin, which forms the body of the tooth. Once in the dentin, it progresses more rapidly until it reaches the pulp — the living tissue within the root canals of the tooth. The decay infects the pulp tissues, which contain the nerves of the teeth, causing pain. The end result of inflammation and infection of the pulp is that it dies.

Stage 3: As the nerve dies an infection results, which causes pain and swelling. For some people who do not regularly visit our office, this may be the first physical sign that they have a problem. But all is not lost, a successful root canal treatment, whereby the infected pulpal tissue is removed and the root canals are cleaned and sealed will not only relieve the pain, but save your tooth. So the good news is that once a tooth has had the appropriate endodontic treatment (“endo” – inside; “dont” – tooth) followed by a proper restoration, the tooth can last as long as your other teeth. The key is to take proper care of your teeth, have routine cleanings, and visit our office as soon as you feel you have a problem with a tooth.

If you are having pain or symptoms from a tooth or teeth, check it out with us — you may or may not need a root canal treatment. Contact our office to schedule an appointment and find out. Don't wait until it's too late. And to learn more about the signs, symptoms, and treatments for a root canal, read the article “I'd Rather Have A Root Canal....”

By Steven R. Gluck, D.D.S.
June 19, 2011
Category: Oral Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), community water fluoridation has been a safe and healthy way to prevent tooth decay effectively for over 65 years now. In fact, the CDC has recognized water fluoridation as one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.

It all began back in the 1930's when it was discovered that fluoride had oral health benefits. However, community water fluoridation did not begin until January 25, 1945, when Grand Rapids, Michigan became the first city to add fluoride to its municipal water system. Before it was officially rolled out in other cities, Grand Rapids was compared to other cities or “controlled groups” that had not added fluoride to their water so that scientific research could assess the relationship between tooth decay and fluoride. Well, you can guess the results — it was proven that fluoride helped reduce tooth decay when added to ordinary tap water. On November 29, 1951, the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council (NRC) declared water fluoridation safe, effective, and beneficial based upon the results of their findings and the fact that there was a dramatic decline in tooth decay in the children of Grand Rapids.

Ever since, fluoride has continued to play a critical role as a simple, safe, effective way to provide improved oral health by helping reduce tooth decay in the United States. This reality is still being demonstrated with each new generation benefiting from better oral health than the previous generation.

As for identifying when the time is right to introduce fluoride to your children's oral health program, ask us. Most children get the right amount of fluoride to help prevent cavities if they drink water that contains fluoride. And if by chance you live in an area where your tap water is not fluoridated, brush your children's teeth with no more than a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste twice a day and ask your dentist about fluoride supplements and treatment.

Learn more on this topic by reading the Dear Doctor article, “Fluoride And Fluoridation In Dentistry.”