Question: During my son's recent dental visit, I was told that I needed to limit his snacking due to an increase in cavities. We do not consume a lot of sweets in our home, and I am trying to figure out what might be causing him to have so much decay.
Answer: Although you may not think he is consuming a lot of sweets, it may be the frequency of the snacks each day. The total amount of snacks consumed each day does not have as much effect as the total number of times a day the teeth are exposed to sugar. More than three exposures to sugar per day increases the chance of decay.
Another cause of tooth decay in children and adults that you may not have considered is the type of drinks consumed. A recent study was done to determine the erosive effects of soft drinks compared to fruit drinks in the first 30 minutes of exposure to each of these liquids. The sampling included most of the types of drinks that can be obtained by an adolescent patient. The findings proved that cola drinks have greater erosive potential - ten times that of orange juice, especially in the first few minutes. The worst thing a patient can do is to sip cola drinks throughout the day. This produces a constant, repeated insult to the enamel, resulting in softening and decay.
What is the best way to ensure a healthy smile?
1) Limit snacking to less than three episodes a day;
2) Offer your child a nutritious, balanced diet that includes a variety of foods to give their body all the nutrients it needs;
3) Remind them to brush thoroughly twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and clean between teeth with floss or inter-dental cleaner once a day to remove plaque;
4) Make sure your child has regular dental checkups and teeth cleanings.
If teeth are crowded, crooked or overlapped, it is harder to clean between the teeth, resulting in increased chance of decay. Straight teeth are not just for looks but for good health as well.
Therefore, between the ages of seven and nine, have your child evaluated by an orthodontist as recommended by the American Association of Orthodontists (www.braces.org). Timely intervention may provide advantages that are not available later.
Dr. Bhatia has completed two full years of specialty training in orthodontics after obtaining her degrees in pediatric dentistry and general dentistry. Orthodontics is not part of what we do - it's all that we do!
"We build kindness... one smile at a time." As always, Dr. Bhatia is happy to answer any additional questions. Send them to her at Kihei Orthodontics, 1280 S. Kihei Road, Suite 206, or visit www.kiheiorthodonticsmaui.com.