Friday, October 23, 2015

Dental Care For Our Children

Dental Care For Children

I would like to talk a little today about the oral health of our children.

The American Pediatric Dentist Association recommends that the first visit should be when they are one year old.
At the first visit the dentist will examine the mouth to determine:

•    If there are caries present
•    Check that the bite is developing normally
•    Show the parents how to care for the child's mouth 

Let me give you an example why it is important to take your child early to the dentist.
In our community, it is not uncommon to see a family with three or four children.  The young mother tries to take care of all of them equally, but many times it is difficult.  Also she sometimes gets advise from friends or family that may not be good advice.  Take for example the same young mother with four children and the baby starts to cry.  The mother gives the baby the bottle with some juice, milk or sweetened liquid, and the baby soon quiets down and goes to sleep with the bottle still in his mouth.  What happens now?  Yes, mom solved the problem of the crying baby, but if this happens often, the child will be in trouble with his teeth. When the baby falls asleep with the bottle often, he holds that liquid in his mouth for long periods of time, and the sugar that it contains causes the baby's teeth to be destroyed by caries. This is seen so often that it has been given the name of "Baby Bottle Syndrome".

The child's nutrition is also very important in order for the teeth to grow healthy and strong.  Children need calcium for the teeth and bones during their development.  Milk, cheese and yogurt are examples of good sources of calcium in the diet.  Sugar, candy and other sweets are used by bacteria to form decay in teeth, and should be reduced or avoided to prevent cavities.
One question that I get asked often is "Is there a pill that I can take to prevent decay?  Well, the answer is no sorry, but there are a couple of chemical compounds that come pretty close.
The first one is fluoride.  Fluoride gets incorporated in the enamel of the teeth and makes them more resistant to cavities. Research has shown that children that grow in communities with fluoride in the water, grow to have very few cavities.  Pediatricians often prescribe vitamins with fluoride to children living in communities without fluoride in the water.  Fluoride is also present in the toothpaste that we use every day.
The other compound is xylitol.  Xylitol is a sugar substitute that bacteria cannot use to produce acids that cause decay.  There are European countries that have laws requiring all candies to be made with xylitol.  In the United States you can find xylitol in some chewing gum, mints and in powder form as a sugar substitute that is ok to use even in diabetic patients.

Another common question I get is this:  My child sucks his thumb or a pacifier.  Will this hurt him in any way?  The instinct to suck is normal in children and is seen as early as children two to three months old.  Neither the thumb nor the pacifier cause problems as long as their use is discontinued before the permanent teeth come out, at about five or six years of age.
There are many other questions that come to mind, but for the sake of brevity, they will be answered in future posts.  I hope this was informative.
Thank you for reading.

West Palm Beach Dentist
Carlos Boudet, DDS DICOI

Implant Blog:
Spanish website:  http://palmbeachdentist.net

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