Did you know that Tooth Decay is the single most chronic childhood disease – five times more common than asthma. Tooth decay occurs when bacteria in the mouth make acids that eat away at the tooth. If not treated, tooth decay can cause pain, infection, and tooth loss. It can easily be prevented by brushing and flossing regularly, seeing the dentist for teeth cleaning and checkups, and avoiding foods that are high in sugar.
What causes tooth decay?
The combination of bacteria and food causes tooth decay. A clear, sticky substance called plaque that contains bacteria is always forming on teeth and gums. The bacteria feeds on sugars in the food and makes acids. The acids attack the teeth and over a period of time these destroy the protective layer around the tooth (the enamel) and result in tooth decay.
What are the symptoms?
Tooth decay usually does not cause symptoms until you have a cavity or an infected tooth. When this occurs, a toothache is the most common symptom.
How is it treated?
Treatment for tooth decay depends on how bad it is. You may be able to reverse slight tooth decay by using fluoride. To fix cavities caused by mild tooth decay, your dentist will fill the cavities with another substance (fillings). For more severe tooth decay, you may need a crown or root canal. In extreme cases, your dentist may have to remove the tooth.
How can parents reduce the risk of Tooth Decay in their children?
• Avoid Sugary drinks and snacks
• Foods containing sugar, including sweets, jam, cakes, biscuits, puddings and ice-cream, should not be given too often and should be kept to mealtimes only.
• Dried fruit is also high in sugar and should be given at meal times.
• Offer snacks such as fruit and raw vegetables, including tangerines, bananas, pieces of cucumber or carrot sticks. Other good snacks include toast, rice cakes and plain popcorn. (High fiber foods stimulate saliva flow, which is a natural defense against cavities.)
• Water & milk for the under-threes are the best choice. Any sugary drinks should be avoided
• Brush teeth twice a day.