By ADA American Dental Association
Did you know that a baby’s teeth begin to develop between the third and sixth months of pregnancy? That’s why making smart food choices now can help set your child up to be Mouth Healthy for Life. During your pregnancy a sufficient quantity of nutrients—especially vitamins A, C, and D, protein, calcium and phosphorous—are needed.
When working with her young patients, pediatric dentist and ADA spokesperson Dr. Mary Hayes teaches them this simple, but important, saying: “Sugar is fun to eat, but not good for your teeth!”
That’s because your child might love sweet treats, but the bacteria in his or her mouth loves them even more. “Sucrose (sugar) is the ‘food’ for the bacteria that cause tooth decay,” Dr. Hayes says. “Those bacteria produce acid that etches away the teeth.”
Limiting the amount of sugar your entire family eats is good for your teeth and key to your overall health. Here are some dentist-recommended ways to start saying good-bye to unnecessary sugar throughout the day.
Thumbsucking is a natural reflex for children. Sucking on thumbs, fingers, pacifiers or other objects may make babies feel secure and happy and help them learn about their world.
Young children may also suck to soothe themselves and help them fall asleep.
Even though they are temporary, your child’s baby teeth are important, and are still susceptible to cavities. Tooth decay in infants and toddlers is often referred to as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, or Early Childhood Caries. Children need strong, healthy teeth to chew their food, speak and have a good-looking smile. Their first teeth also help make sure their adult teeth come in correctly. It’s important to start infants off with good oral care to help protect their teeth for decades to come.
Brushing and flossing are the best ways to help prevent cavities, but it’s not always easy to clean every nook and cranny of your teeth – especially those back teeth you use to chew (called molars). Molars are rough, uneven and a favorite place for leftover food and cavity-causing bacteria to hide.
Still, there’s another safety net to help keep those teeth clean. It’s called a sealant, and it is a thin, protective coating (made from plastic or other dental materials) that adheres to the chewing surface of your back teeth. They’re no substitute for brushing and flossing, but they can keep cavities from forming and may even stop early stages of decay from becoming a full-blown cavity.
Breastfeeding is one of the first (and most personal) decisions a mother makes for her baby. It can help your baby’s body fight infections and reduce health risks like asthma, ear infections, SIDS and obesity in children. Nursing moms may lower their chances of developing breast and ovarian cancer. But did you know breastfeeding can impact the dental health of both baby and mom?
When he’s feeling under the weather, ADA dentist Dr. Gene Romo says one thing always helps him feel a little more like himself. “Brushing my teeth when I’m sick actually makes me feel better,” he says. “My mouth feels clean, and in a way, I feel like my health is starting to improve.”
When you have a cold or the flu, taking care of your body is your top priority—and that includes your mouth. “It’s important to take care of your dental health all year round, but especially when you’re sick,” Dr. Romo says.
Did you know your digestive health can affect your teeth?
Frequent stomach upset can cause a gradual wearing away of the protective enamel on your teeth, a process known as tooth erosion. This can affect the appearance of your teeth and open the door for harmful bacteria that cause cavities.
Think that only sweet-tasting drinks and snacks are harmful for your teeth? Think again.
Sugar isn’t the only dietary factor that can damage your smile. Foods and beverages that are high in acids wear away the enamel that protects your teeth, a process known as tooth erosion. This changes the appearance of your teeth and opens the door for bacteria that can cause cavities or infection.
Fluoride is often called nature’s cavity fighter and for good reason. Fluoride, a naturally-occurring mineral, helps prevent cavities in children and adults by making the outer surface of your teeth (enamel) more resistant to the acid attacks that cause tooth decay.
Can a genetic test predict your risk of developing future cavities or severe gum disease? The answer, at this point in time, is no.
There are commercially marketed tests that claim to measure risk of disease or susceptibility to future disease. Predictive genetic tests look for clues in your DNA that could indicate whether you are at risk of developing certain diseases or medical conditions. For these tests, you are often asked to swab your cheek or mail a saliva sample back to a lab. The company follows up with results and may or may not provide a consultation with a medical professional.
Saliva, or spit, plays a significant role in maintaining oral health. It is derived from blood and acts as the bloodstream of the mouth. What this means is, like blood, saliva helps build and maintain the health of soft and hard tissues. When saliva flow is reduced oral health problems such as tooth decay and other oral infections can occur. Chewing is the most efficient way to stimulate salivary flow. It causes muscles to compress the salivary glands and release saliva.