The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that all children visit a dentist at an early age. Proper dental care should begin immediately after the very first tooth erupts in the mouth. This care includes establishing a dental home with a pediatric dentist and the use of small amounts of toothpaste that contain fluoride.
In taking this step, it is believed that the development of early childhood caries (ECC) will be prevented and the overall oral health of the child will be optimized. Learn about the early development of childhood dental caries and how fluoride helps prevent tooth decay and other problems in the mouth.
What is Early Childhood Caries?
Early childhood caries is when a child between birth and the age of six has tooth decay or a missing tooth due to decay in any primary tooth. It is considered to be an international-based public health problem in both developed and developing countries.
When early childhood caries develops, it progresses very fast and is often left untreated. In fact, it is considered to be the most common of all chronic-based infectious diseases in kids. It is – ultimately – caused by the direct interaction of sugary foods that come into contact with the teeth and the bacteria that is within the mouth.
When the bacteria break down sugars, an acid is produced that causes the demineralization or weakening of the tooth enamel.
What is Fluoride and How Does it Help the Teeth?
Fluoride is a natural mineral that is found within all sources of water, including the oceans. When the mineral comes in contact with the teeth, it is then absorbed directly into the enamel.
It helps in the restoration of the enamel by quickly replenishing any calcium and phosphorous that has been lost. These substances help in keeping the teeth hard and strong.
Fluoride helps to prevent any type of dissolution when demineralization occurs as a result of bacteria combatting sugar and creating an acidic environment within the mouth.
How Much Fluoride Should My Child Have?
In most instances, drinking water contains fluoride. A young child should be provided with only a pea-size amount of toothpaste that contains fluoride. Combined, this is considered sufficient; however, if your water is not fluoridated by your community, you may purchase over-the-counter water that contains fluoride for your child.
Additionally, a pediatric dentist may prescribe drops or tablets of fluoride for your child to ensure that they are receiving the proper amount of fluoride each day.
If you have a concern about your child’s dental health, we can help here at Richmond Pediatric Dentistry. We encourage you to set up an appointment for your child – regardless of their age – as quickly as possible. We will evaluate their teeth and deal with any issues immediately.