Conquering Cavities in Kids

Moms and Dads, don’t you hate the thought of your child getting cavities and having to get numb, biting their lip and getting their sweet little teeth drilled in and amputated?  Some children even need to be put to sleep to get the work done.  As a parent,  I most certainly want to protect my children and prevent this trauma from ever occurring.  As a dental professional,  I want to show you how, step by step, you can do just that!  Let’s make the dental drill extinct!

#1.  First, parents, please know that your children get their decay bacteria from you.  You infect them when you blow on their food, lick off their spoon, clean off their binky- saliva to saliva.  Even if they don’t have teeth, you can infect them with your germs,  so you need to be decay-free yourselves.  Everything I list here you should follow for yourselves as well.
#2.   Every child can be tested for the decay bacteria- There is an easy swab test that is swiped on the back of their front teeth.  Just don’t brush that morning.  It takes 15 seconds to get the results.  That tells you just how much decay bacterial load the person has.  Every family member can have this inexpensive test done.  Then the dental office should review your risk factors that contribute to decay.  (Remember those from my previous post: Tooth Decay is NOT Okay)
#3. Now that we know the decay bacterial load, it is time to change that  number.  Let’s lower it.  Our office uses a product called Carifree treatment kit.  They have treatment kits for children as well as adults.  This kit provides a series of rinses and tooth gels to change the oral flora and establish good bacteria.  We retest every three months and continue a combination of these rinses and gels as determined by the retesting.
#4. In addition to the Carifree treatment kit, our office also uses  ozone/oxygen therapy and a super remineralizing agent called caphasol to help kill the bacteria and put minerals back into the teeth.  We make custom trays to flow ozone gas over the teeth. (see previous post on ozone– remember ozone is a super cleaner that kills bacteria, yeast, mold, fungus and spores.)  We apply the ozone gas directly onto the teeth and then paint on the super remineralizer.  Let the healing begin!  Ozone and caphasol make the teeth bacteria free, put minerals back into the teeth and make them more resistant to tooth decay.
 
#5. Lest you think the rinses do all the work, sorry, they don’t. You still have to help your child brush their teeth. Be there in the bathroom.  Too often I hear from young patients that they just wet the brush, smear a little toothpaste on their tongue and call it good.  Mom was never the wiser.  Help your child brush their teeth for a good minute or more.  Use an electric tooth brush, brush twice a day, morning and before bed.  Not negotiable.
#6. Clean in between the teeth, even baby teeth, because decay starts there.  Now, most adults don’t even floss so how on earth can children?  They do not have the dexterity. Here are some great tools to help you and them do that:
Dentist-approved Birthday present!
from Archie McPhee

                    a) Gum Chucks– this company also has adult models and  a new model to clean under braces!

                    b) Piksters/TePe interproximal brushes, or Dr Collins interproximal brushes- all variations of miniature bottle brushes that you push through the sides of teeth to clean there.  Easy to use, even for little hands.
  #7. Tongue cleaner- Yes, I know everyone “brushes” their tongue, but that really does not do much. Sorry to tell you.  Instead, use a tongue scraper and squeeze the plaque off.   Put the tongue scraper back as far on your tongue as you can, and squeeze and scraper the plaque off.  Use it until the scraper stays clean. Your teeth will stay cleaner and you will be throughly grossed out by what you pull off there.  I gave my youngest daughter a tongue scraper at age five. She had no problems using it even then.  This will help with morning breath.  (We will cover bad breath another post soon.)
#8. Xylitol- Strive for five servings daily to help change the oral flora to good bacteria. (See the previous post on  Mouth Magic  for more xylitol information.)  There is even a xylitol wipe for newborn babies call Spiffies– babies can harbor decay bacteria even before they have teeth.  Start wiping every time you change diapers!  That should get them five servings a day.
 
#9. Just as we like sugar, so do the decay bacteria.  That’s their food of choice.  Simple carbohydrates also break down to sugar, so the crackers or the baggie of cheerios that Baby munches on is a source of food for the bacteria.  The decay bacteria grow fat and happy.  Then when you add frequent sipping on a sippy cup of juice, it creates an acidic environment and it’s off to the races for decay.  
From here
another dental blog post- all about sippy cups!
Children have immature, less hard, enamel, which make them more susceptible to the more virilant bacteria–  the fungus Candida albicans, which combines with S.mutans to create an environment that grows extra sticky plaque.
#10. Related: Please transition your children to a regular cup after age one.  NO sippy cups after that age. The sippy cup allows the child  frequent snacking- especially if there is juice or milk in there, and frequent snacking leads to decay.  Yes, it is more convenient and less messy for mom but remember our goal- no tooth decay.  
So, my goal for your children’s snack time is that when they’re hungry, sit them down to have their snack (rather than sipping and grazing all afternoon), and finish with some water to help their mouth return to a neutral state. 
If you need an extra nudge click here to check out what baby bottle cavities look like.
#11. And of course you know not to put them to bed with a bottle.  See the baby bottle cavities.
#12. Sealants, I will surprise you here- I really don’t recommend them!  Yes I know they are standard protocol for the last 50 years.  Unfortunately, the failure rate is too high, and too many times I find decay underneath.  To do sealants correctly first the tooth should be air polished, then tested with a laser cavity detector.  Then, if there is no decay, ozone them to be bacteria free, and then and only then seal them.  Does your dental office do that? Probably not, so then the sealants get failure of the bond or even get decay under them.  Sealants work best on mature enamel,  immature enamel  does not allow for a good bonding of the material to the tooth.  That allows leakage and decay- and defeats the purpose of the sealant.  Instead I recommend ozone and caphasol, and then a sealant if all the other steps are followed.
#13. Teeth with decay can easily and painlessly be restored with air abrasion and warm water.  Check out Dr Tim Rainey  in Refugio,  Texas- he has a video  on the Prickly Pedo patient- worth watching.  Dr. Rainey uses air abrasion and ozone to work quickly and painlessly.  No shots.   More on air abrasion in another post.  
#14. Early detection and prevention of tooth decay  is vital for a healthy mouth and healthy life.
Ask your dentist and dental hygienist how they can help you and your family prevent tooth decay, remineralize teeth and stop tooth amputation.  If they don’t  have any ideas other than fluoride and a drill, it may be time to find another office.  If you need help finding one, let me know.  

Barbara’s Dental Hygiene Pearls of Wisdom:

 

from Pinterest
Let’s make the dental drill extinct!
Let’s prevent dental phobia!
Let’s help our children have  strong teeth and a healthy smile!
Questions or comments, let me know! 
Keep smiling, they will wonder what you’ve been up to! 🙂
Barbara 

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