February is National Children's Dental Health month. I thought I would talk about dental decay and how to avoid a cavity.
How Do Cavities Form?
Hundreds of different types of bacteria live in our mouths, plaque is one of these. Plaque is the sticky film that is constantly forming on our teeth. When we eat or drink sugar, the bacteria in plaque produces acid that attacks the tooth enamel. Over time this can cause a hole in the tooth enamel, causing dental decay.
It's important children develop healthy habits to avoid dental cavities. One reason primary teeth (baby teeth) are important is they help guide the permanent teeth when it's time for them to erupt. Also, teeth decay in children can be painful. Today, we can find decay in its early stages and treat the tooth before this happens, helping prevent the children from having a bad experience at the dentist.
Healthy habits include brushing and flossing daily. This will remove plaque from our teeth, hoping to avoid a cavity. Our diet is also important. Limiting sugary drinks and snack in between meals can help prevent cavities.
There are also other tools we can use. "MI" paste is a paste that is rubbed on to enamel that puts good minerals into the teeth. Xylitol can be found in gum, mints and even bought as sugar we can cook with. It prevents plaque from sticking to enamel. Fluoride may be discussed. Is fluoride a good thing and what happens when too much fluoride is used?
About That Pop Habit...
I know teenagers like to drink pop (my daughters included). But, most teenagers don't realize there are 15 teaspoons of sugar in a 20 ounce bottle of Mountain Dew. A 20 ounce bottle of Coca-Cola has 16 teaspoons of sugar (that is the same as a quarter of a cup). Take a quarter of a measuring cup and fill it with sugar, show your teen and he or she may think twice about pop.
Another thing teenagers need to know is every time they take a sip of pop there is a half of an hour of acid attack on their teeth. This is not only because there is sugar in pop, but there is also acid. Phosphoric acid is the fourth listed ingredient in a can of Pepsi. So, if they are going to drink a pop, drink it with a meal, get it done, and don't sip the pop for an hour or two. Remember, water is always best.
With good habits and dental check ups, your children's teeth will stay healthy!