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Know Your Teeth - Infobites - What Is Tooth Decay? -- Search By Keyword, Letter or Phrase - 1-877-2X-A-YEAR (1-877-292-9327)
Dental care and oral health information you need
from the Academy of General Dentistry


Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Know Your Teeth Academy of General Dentistry Know Your Teeth

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Children's Oral Health

Like Parent, Like Child: Good Oral Health Starts at Home


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Providing oral health education to families is essential to teaching children healthy habits and preventing early childhood tooth decay.



Learn what those dental words mean.

Check out how your teeth and mouth change in every stage of life.

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What Is Tooth Decay?

 
Chapter: Three Ways to Prevent Cavities

1. Cut down on sweets and between-meal snacks. Remember, it's these sugary and starchy treats that put your teeth at extra risk. Some research says certain foods, such as peanuts or sugar-free chewing gum, may be "friendly" to teeth. Eating these foods along with or after foods that contain carbohydrates may help to counter the effects of acids produced by bacteria. Drinking plenty of water can help wash away food particles. Of course, dentists encourage their patients to eschew these sugary snacks in favor of healthy alternatives.

 

2. Brush after every meal and floss daily. Cavities most often begin in hard-to-clean areas between teeth and in the fissures and pits – the edges in the tooth crown and gaps between teeth. Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and brush inside, outside and between your teeth and on the top of your tongue. Be sure the bristles are firm, not bent, and replace the toothbrush after a few weeks to safeguard against re-infecting your mouth with old bacteria than can collect on the brush. Only buy toothpastes and rinses that contain fluoride (antiseptic rinses also help remove plaque) and that bear the American Dental Association seal on the package. Children under age 6 should only use a small pea-sized dab of toothpaste on the brush and should spit out as much as possible, because a child's developing teeth are sensitive to higher fluoride levels. Finally, because caries is a transmittable disease, toothbrushes should never be shared, especially with your children. 

 

3. See your dentist at least every six months for checkups and professional cleanings. Because cavities can be difficult to detect, a thorough dental examination is very important. If you get a painful toothache, if your teeth are very sensitive to hot or cold foods or if you notice signs of decay like white spots, tooth discolorations or cavities, make an appointment right away. The longer you wait to treat infected teeth, the more intensive and lengthy the treatment will be. Left neglected, cavities can lead to root canal infection, permanent deterioration of decayed tooth substance and even loss of the tooth itself.

 

Reviewed: January 2012