Smiles for Children

Frequently Asked Questions

Does feeding babies with milk throughout the night help teeth get stronger?
No, in fact the sugar content of milk will promote decay. These children develop a form of dental caries involving several teeth in the mouth. This form of caries is called nursing bottle caries. Nursing bottle caries is usually associated with prolonged bottle feeding of sugar containing drinks such as milk and juices. They may occur due to bottle feeding at bedtime or during sleep and lack of cleansing of the teeth thereafter.

Nursing caries can also occur due to prolonged on demand breast feeding at night due to lactose sugar present in the milk. This form of dental decay affects many teeth and may be seen as marked discoloration of the teeth. In later stages the teeth may fracture. The child often experiences pain on brushing and eating cold or hot food substances. 

Is it true that raw vegetables & fibrous food lower the chances of decay?
Refined forms of food easily stick in and around the teeth and promote formation of dental plaque. Eating fibrous food helps in cleansing the teeth during chewing. Decay is seen more frequently in people who eat more refined foods. 

Is it true that fluoride prevents decay?
Yes, studies have shown that fluorides can prevent decay by up to 50% if they are supplemented and monitored in water, food and toothpaste. In addition the patient should maintain good oral hygiene.

How does fluoride prevent decay?
Fluorides have the ability to become a part of the tooth structure and make the teeth more resistant to dental decay. The use of fluorides may even stop progression of caries in the initial stages. Fluoride when consumed during formation of teeth gets incorporated in the tooth structure and makes the enamel stronger. It also has an antibacterial effect on several germs that cause decay and makes dental plaque difficult to attach to the tooth.

What are the different forms of fluoride available for prevention of decay?
Fluoride in drinking water helps prevent caries in the entire population of a particular region. This has been tried in many cities around the world with great success. {The cities of Edmond, Moore and most people who drink well water will not have the benefit of fluoridated water.} Fluorides are also available in tablet form, varnishes, some types of filling materials, and toothpastes. 

What is protective coats/varnish that helps to prevent decay?
Application of fluoride gels and varnish by the dentist or primary care physician can make the teeth more resistant to decay. However, this application does not last for a long time and it should be applied every six months.

What are sealants?
In some children the grinding or biting surfaces of teeth tend to have very deep pits and grooves which allows the build-up of food and microbes. These teeth can be treated with sealants to protect the surface and prevent acid production, from the food and bacteria, from starting the decay process. These are called pit and fissure sealants.

Is it true that some type of chewing gums help prevent decay?
Yes, only sugar free chewing gums containing xylitol has shown promising results in reducing decay, while others that contain sugar do not help.

What causes tooth loss?
Tooth decay and periodontal disease are the most common causes of tooth loss. Tooth decay takes place when most of the tooth's mineral makeup has been dissolved away and a hole (cavity) has formed. While tooth decay primarily affects children, periodontal disease, or gum disease, affects mostly adults. Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums caused by the buildup of plaque, and its earliest stage is known as gingivitis.

How many times a day should I brush my teeth?
Most dental professionals recommend that you brush your teeth at least twice a day. Brushing before going to bed and flossing at least once a day is also a good way to maintain dental health.

When should a child have his/her first dental appointment?
A child should have his first dental appointment no later than his second birthday. Many dentists recommend a child have his first appointment when his first tooth comes in.

What causes oral cancer?
Tobacco (cigarettes, pipes, cigars, chewing tobacco, and snuff) is the most common cause of oral cancer. Bad hygiene, prolonged irritation of the oral cavity, and extended exposure to strong sunlight on the lips are among other causes of the disease.

What are the warning signs of oral cancer?

Early symptoms of oral cancer include: a sore on the lip, in the mouth, or in the throat that does not heal; a lump on the lip, in the mouth, or in the throat; a red or white patch found anywhere in the mouth; unusual pain or bleeding in the mouth; swelling of the mouth; and any difficulty or discomfort felt in chewing or swallowing.