Expert Advice on Kids’ Dental Health
January is almost over (can you believe it?) and we’re starting to think about February, which happens to be National Children’s Dental Health Month. During National Children’s Dental Health Month, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) wants to arm parents and caregivers with the important tools and information they need to help fight tooth decay for their children. EverydayFamily’s Shiloh Johnson sat down with the current President of the AAPD, Dr. Jade Miller, to discuss pediatric dental health and new cavity prevention methods. Watch the full interview here:
When asked about the primary culprits of childhood tooth decay, Dr. Miller really warned us about baby bottle tooth decay. It goes by a few names, including nursing bottle tooth decay, baby bottle syndrome, early childhood caries, and bottle rot. Baby bottle tooth decay is caused by leaving a bottle filled with milk, juice, or formula in the crib with your little one. When your little one has access to this bottle of warm, sweet liquid all night, the bacteria in your little one’s mouth teams up with the sugars in the liquid and causes a lot of decay in those little teeth. Dr. Miller reminded us that our little ones should only have access to water throughout the night.
So, say you take your little one to the dentist for a check up, and they find a cavity. Oh no! What are your options? Older children can have the cavity filled, but some children who have cavities are too young to sit still for the treatment. Dr. Miller told us about one of the newest options to stop the growth of a cavity and prevent future tooth decay in toddlers and children without drilling and filling: a liquid called silver diamine fluoride.
Silver diamine fluoride may, in certain situations, be a safe way to delay filling a cavity, until your child is ready. If you have a very young child with a cavity you can utilize this liquid. It kills the bacteria to slow down the progression of the cavity so that you can manage the cavity when the child is older. Dentists can simply brush it directly onto a cavity, and then fill the cavity when your child is older. Dr. Miller warned that silver diamine fluoride can cause the spot where the cavity is to turn dark or black, but the discoloration is fixed when the cavity is treated later.
Now, you may want to know if you really have to worry about taking care of baby teeth. Won’t they just fall out and be replaced by permanent teeth later anyway? Yes – it’s true, baby teeth will eventually fall out – BUT – it’s important to treat cavities and keep your child’s baby teeth in good shape because baby teeth are the foundation for a healthy mouth. It’s especially important because tooth decay remains a top chronic infectious disease among kids. Nearly one in three children ages two to five years old in the U.S. are affected by tooth decay. Also, oral health has many links to general health. Bad oral health has links to diabetes, premature labor, and cardiac disease. So it is very important to start healthy oral habits early in life to prevent more problems later in life.
Dr. Miller recommended visiting mychildrensteeth.org to get more information on dental health. When you’re there, be sure to check out the adorable and informative section called The Mouth Monsters. Watch out for the villainous Tooth DK!
Dr. Miller also reminded us that it’s important to get your child into the dentist early in life. Make sure you get your child in for an appointment by one-year of age to establish those healthy dental habits.