You might have heard innumerable times about the importance of good oral hygiene. Even so, it might have happened you forgot to help your child with oral hygiene. Even more, you might be tempted to think skipping brushing and flossing occasionally is not that bad after all.
Unluckily, such thinking is erroneous. And although there is no reason to blame parents, in truth, there is a considerable amount of advice on the web telling parents to care about their children’s oral hygiene and how to do it. But only a few explain and provide evidence why it is a major cause of concern.
Here we will talk about the bacterial process that occurs in your kid’s mouth and how it evolves to become a problem that could eventually have an impact on their adult life. Fortunately, tooth decay, gum disease, and their associated problems might be prevented by protecting the enamel layer of teeth.
What Is Enamel?
Enamel is the outermost layer of teeth. The enamel layer is composed of a complex structure of minerals that includes calcium, phosphates, and water forming a crystal matrix that makes it the hardest tissue in mammals. To give you a better idea, according to a physical measuring scale (Moh), the enamel layer is as hard as steel that serves to maintain teeth protected and strong.
What Causes Tooth Enamel Erosion?
Now, you might be wondering if the enamel is that strong; why do I have to worry? There are two things that are important, and we will try to explain. The first is mineralization and demineralization, and the second one is pH variations in the structure of the enamel.
Mineralization and Demineralization
Enamel is composed of a matrix of minerals named Amelogenin, a protein-rich structure that helps in the formation of crystals making the structure harder. Also, calcium accounts for 18% of its developing composition. The rest of the enamel composition includes phosphates. As the enamel layer develops, most of the developing Amelogenin is replaced, the crystals fuse and compact, and the enamel enters a calcification process.
Calcium is an important component of enamel. In some cases, metabolic disorders or a condition named enamel hypoplasia might affect enamel development. To make this clear, “hypo” means below normal, and “plasia” means formation or growth. Enamel Hypoplasia occurs when the mineralization developmental stage of enamel is disturbed by an interacting factor. Possible causes of enamel hypoplasia include nutritional or weaning stress and infectious diseases.
This process might have an impact later in adulthood. Studies account that enamel does not remodel. This means that factors affecting enamel development might cause lesions that occur in childhood, producing demineralization. This has a major impact on adulthood because enamel minerals can not be restored. The only feasible thing possible trying to maintain enamel strength is for a dentist to apply a mineral named fluoride, which is resistant to pH variations to prevent further demineralization in kids.
pH Variations in the Structure of Enamel
Bacteria found in the mouth, named Streptococci, metabolize the food residues left in the mouth of your kid. The product is an acidic matter that affects enamel pH making it weaker and eroding it. When food particles accumulate, they form a sticky layer of acidic matter named dental plaque that hardens, forming calculus.
Dental calculus impregnates the teeth’ outer layer producing tooth decay. Tooth decay allows bacteria to penetrate the enamel layer, forming a dental cavity. A cavity is an entrance door for bacteria that produces an infection in the dentin portion of a tooth.
At this stage, your kid might not evidence any sign of discomfort. For this reason, having good oral hygiene habits must be accompanied by recurring dental visits to evaluate signs of tooth decay or forming cavities.
However, in some cases, bacteria might advance to the dental pulp that contains nerve ramifications producing acute pain and requiring immediate dental care to prevent losing a dental piece. In other words, good oral hygiene and preventive care dental visits are key to identifying possible signs of tooth decay and cavities treatments before they become problematic.
How Can I Tell if My Child Has Suffered From Enamel Erosion?
To identify enamel erosion, look out for changes in the tooth surface, such as roughness, flaking, and transparency. You may also notice that your child’s damaged teeth appear yellowish since the underlying dentin layer shows through. If you suspect enamel erosion or spot changes in your kid’s teeth, it’s best to get it checked by a pediatric dentist to prevent further damage.
How to Restore Tooth Enamel
Unfortunately, tooth enamel cannot be restored. However, there are preventive treatments that can help prevent the demineralization of enamel on teeth that, includes using fluoride and also protecting the molars’ occlusal surface with dental sealants. So, let’s check these options in detail.
Enamel is composed of several minerals. Fluoride is one of the most important minerals that comprise the enamel structure. This mineral prevents tooth decay by making tooth enamel resistant to the acidic matter produced by bacteria.
For further reference, fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that is present in foods like fish, meat, green vegetables, and eggs. Moreover, the Division of Oral Health, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, introduced the program named “My Waters Fluoride.” to inform the public about participant states fluoridation levels in their public consumption water. Moreover, fluoride can also be found in toothpaste or mouthwash.
The first city to fluoridate its tap water was Grand Rapids in Michigan in 1945. Five years later, the incidence of cavities in children of Grand Rapids experienced a significant drop, and surrounding cities started adopting this measure and fluoridated their water as well.
Today most states adopted a water fluoridation program benefiting more than 75% of the population. Unfortunately, water in Aurora is not fluoridated, which means parents must be more vigilant of their kid’s fluoride intake to strengthen their teeth.
Water fluoridation is an excellent story that deserves to be told. Despite fluoride s being found in many sources, fluoride in tap water is pretty important to avoid cavities. Consequentially, there might be cases where your child might require extra fluoride to protect their teeth.
Pediatric Specialists at Epic Dentistry for Kids use a tray filled with a fluoride-rich gel that is then pressed against the dental arches. This fluoride treatment helps your kid’s teeth enamel remain strong and reduces the possibility of tooth decay.
The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend parents take their infant baby for a first visit by the first year of age. Also, by the age of two, your toddler might have all teeth erupted, making dental cleanings a priority to keep your kid’s teeth healthy.
Visiting a pediatric dentist from the first year of age will help your kid familiarize themself with the dental instruments and find the dental clinic more placid and normal. Furthermore, dental cleanings primarily consist of the following:
A visual and x-rays evaluation to identify tooth decay, cavities, identify gum disease, and potentially occurring cases of infection on impacted teeth that could produce pericoronitis.
Then a specialist uses a scaler to scrape and remove plaque buildup and tartar from teeth and the gum line. At first sight, parents might not detect tartar buildup. However, tartar, also known as calculus, might deposit in entrenched areas and the nooks and crannies of teeth.
Then, a specialist demonstrates to parents the correct form for their kid brushing teeth and flossing with the appropriate technique to make tartar removal at home more effective. In some cases, they would also apply a fluoride treatment if noticing insufficient fluoride or tooth decay starting to develop.
Then, your little one will receive thorough flossing in all teeth, and the specialist will also educate the parents and the kid about the correct and optimum use of a flossing thread. Then a final touch includes rinsing your kid’s mouth with mouthwash to reduce bacteria colonies and leave your child’s mouth fresh and clean.
Keep Your Kids’ Enamel as Strong as Steel at Epic Dentistry for Kids – Pediatric Dentists
Caring for your kids’ teeth involves having a preventive and proactive approach that considers oral hygiene, dental check-ups, correcting bad habits, and observing developmental misalignments that might affect the functionality of the bite.
All of these considerations will guarantee your kid has healthy and beautiful teeth that will last for a lifetime. Dentists for Kids in Aurora can help you prevent oral health issues in your kid that might be costly to correct later.
Schedule an appointment at Epic Dentistry for Kids and start getting all the detailed information you need to adopt a preventive approach that ensures your kid has a healthy smile, avoiding the risk of painful and costly corrective treatment.