Tooth Decay

Reversing Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is the most prevalent disease in the world, so Dr. Roca is excited to introduce a brand-new way to stop cavities once they have started. She uses a new product to stop decay from progressing into a full-blown cavity. This product, CURODONT™, has been used for a while in Europe with great success and just recently received FDA approval in the United States. Dr. Roca has high hopes for this conservative approach, since attacking the bacteria with this re-mineralizing tooth gel when the decay is still in the enamel will allow us to reverse the decay process and halt it from moving forward. Dr. Roca always says the least amount of dentistry is the best amount of dentistry. She says if something sounds too good to be true it usually is, but all the research and results show a great future for this product. Other offices have used silver diamine fluoride on tooth decay, which is a liquid substance that prevents tooth decay from growing or spreading to other teeth, but Dr. Roca does not like the black stain left on the tooth structure that comes with using that product. She prefers the CURODONT product, which actually repairs instead of just halting the decay.

“CURODONT REPAIR has shown to be superior to the gold-standard fluoride varnish in the treatment of initial caries as shown in a long-term, randomized, controlled clinical study. The new study conducted by Dr. Bröseler & Dr. Tietmann et. al. within their private practice, has recently been published in the prestigious journal Clinical Oral Investigations.

“The clinical trial demonstrated significantly superior size reduction of the buccal white spot lesions after treatment with CURODONT REPAIR compared to those receiving fluoride varnish, which showed little change in size. In agreement with the size measurement, the researchers clinically assessed the white spots treated with CURODONT REPAIR to have regressed whereas control teeth were mainly unchanged, signifying the clinical benefit of the Guided Enamel Remineralization therapy with CURODONT REPAIR.

“The strong Clinical Significance Statement by Dr. Bröseler and co-workers highlights the potential of the novel remineralizing therapy in caries prevention: ‘P11-4 [CURODONT REPAIR] is the first caries treatment approach aiming to regenerate decayed enamel. […] adding a new advanced therapy option for preventive dentistry.’”

The pH of the mouth also has a great deal to do with dental decay. There are many things you can do to lower the pH in your mouth. For example, eating nuts before you go to bed, as they are high in arginine and good for pH. Maintaining a good pH balance and healthy diet can be the biggest method for preventing dental decay.

Additionally, we can apply dental sealants to the back teeth to prevent decay from ever taking hold in those deep grooves. The sealant is a thin, clear or white coating that is bonded into place with no tooth preparation necessary, so there’s no pain or stress. It’s the easy way to prevent cavities!

Dr. Roca takes placing sealants on permanent molars very seriously because she does not want to place a sealant on a molar that has started decay. She only wants to seal virgin, healthy molars. Consequently, she uses a laser cavity detector called DIAGNOdent™ to scan the teeth. She will not put a sealant on a tooth unless the reading is between 1 and 10. If the molar has a reading of 11 through 29, she will not place the sealant but instead watch the molar in question. This will hopefully allow toothpaste to get to the tooth and give it a chance to remineralize. This is an example of a time when she would offer the parents a chance to halt the decay process and repair the tooth from the inside out by using CURODONT (mentioned above). At each subsequent check-up, Dr. Roca will retest the teeth in question with the DIAGNOdent detector and compare numbers to previous check-ups. As always, the staff will review with the child and parent(s) the tooth in question to make sure special attention is given to the area.

Understanding Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Baby bottle tooth decay, also called “bottle syndrome” or “early childhood caries,” is a serious condition that can destroy your child’s teeth. It occurs when teeth are exposed, frequently and at length, to liquids that contain sugar. The liquid provides food for the bacteria in plaque, a sticky film that forms constantly on the teeth. When bacteria consume the sugar, they produce acid, and this acid attacks your child’s teeth, causing decay.

We often find that children who have baby bottle decay are most likely mouth-breathing. Some do this while sleeping, some while walking around during the day with their mouth open. This allows the mouth to get dry, which in turn gives cavities a higher chance to grow. We also find a high correlation of baby bottle decay and children with tight, oversized lip-ties that make brushing the upper front teeth a challenge. A lip-tie also makes it challenging for parents to get past the lip to the teeth, since the child tightens the lip to avoid the toothbrush hurting their gums.

Your child’s teeth are vulnerable to decay from the moment they break through the gums. You may not even notice the decay until it’s too late to save the teeth, so it’s crucial that you prevent baby bottle tooth decay from occurring in the first place. Decay can lead to toothaches, which can make it difficult for your child to eat. Untreated, it can also cause infection that may result in having to remove teeth. If baby teeth are lost too early, your child could suffer from poor nutrition, speech problems, crooked teeth, and permanent damage to adult teeth.

Avoiding Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

All liquids that contain sugar can cause baby bottle tooth decay. This includes breast and cow’s milk (which contain the sugar lactose), formula, and fruit juice (which contains the sugar fructose), as well as soda pop and other sweetened drinks. You need to begin cleaning your child’s teeth as soon as they erupt, by wiping teeth and gums with a clean, damp washcloth or a very soft infant toothbrush after each feeding. In fact, children are not born with decay-causing bacteria and have none until we share our spoon with them. Above all, don’t let your child fall asleep with milk in their mouth. The milk does not get swallowed and it stays and wreaks havoc on the teeth.

If your child takes a bottle to bed or needs the comfort of a bottle for long periods during the day, put only water in the bottle or switch to a pacifier. Use a cup only at mealtime or put water in the cup between meals. Do not use a sippy cup. Begin flossing your child’s teeth daily when all primary teeth have come in; usually around age 2 or 2 and a half is when we start to see the contact tightening between teeth.

Avoiding Tooth Decay

Often, parents limit sugar but not carbohydrates. Crackers (including the goldfish kind) get stuck on teeth and can lead to tooth decay as well.

We recommend the book “More Chocolate, No Cavities: How Diet Can Keep Your Kid Cavity-Free” by Roger Lucas.

Click here to learn about xylitol, a natural sweetener that helps combat tooth decay.

Dr. Lupita Roca’s tips for kids’ dental care in order to develop good oral hygiene habits:

  • Developing oral hygiene habits starts before your baby has teeth. Wiping your baby’s gums after feeding with a clean damp cloth will help your baby get used to having their mouth cleaned after eating.
  • If you feel that your baby needs to sleep with a bottle or sippy cup, fill it with water only. Other liquids like juice or milk encourage the growth of bacteria, which cause tooth decay.
  • After feeding and mouth cleaning, lift your baby’s lip to look for changes in the color of your baby’s front teeth. White lines or spots, brown lines or spots, or chips in the teeth may be signs of potential problems, which, if caught early, are easier to repair.
  • As soon your baby’s first tooth appears, begin brushing with an infant or baby toothbrush. Brush in the morning and especially before bedtime.
  • Lie your child down with their head well supported by a pillow, a couch, a bed or your lap. This improves your visibility and you will have TWO hands free with which to brush.
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste. Use only a very small smear of toothpaste with each brushing. Fluoride in the toothpaste helps to harden the tooth mineral, making it more resistant to acid.
  • Keep the toothpaste tube out of your baby’s or child’s reach.
  • Change your child’s toothbrush after each dental checkup (usually once every 6 months). If your child becomes ill, as most children do, change the toothbrush after they recover to avoid reinfection.
  • Make tooth brushing fun. Sing songs, play hide and seek looking for dinosaurs in each other’s mouths, read stories about healthy teeth and visiting the dentist. But, most importantly, make sure YOU brush your child’s teeth once a day, preferably before they go to bed.
  • Your child’s first dental check-up should occur by 12 months of age or within 6 months of the first tooth appearing. This well-baby visit is a great time to ask the dental team questions about your child’s dental health.
  • Healthy snacks are important for general health. Try to avoid acidic foods or foods containing sugar or starch between meals.
  • Sticky snacks containing sugar (such as dried fruit) or starch (crackers, cookies, granola bars) are especially harmful.
  • Some healthy snack choices include nuts and seeds, nut butters like peanut or almond, cheese, plain yogurt, popcorn, or raw vegetables.
  • Sweets — we all know they can cause cavities, but moms and dads need to know that it’s not the amount of sweets our children eat, but how often and when they eat them.

“Every time we eat something with sugar, the oral bacteria produce acid that can damage the teeth and this ‘attack’ can last for up to 20 minutes each time! Try to eat sweets only at the end of meal when you are able to brush afterwards.”

Please remember the following:
Bacteria must be removed twice a day (morning and night), as they begin to develop 12 hours after their removal.

Parents must brush their children’s teeth until the recommended age of 8 to 10, as children may not have the manual dexterity or coordination to do so correctly on their own.

Toothpaste must contain an adequate amount of fluoride according to the child’s age. We’ll advise you on this issue during your child’s first visit.

Too much toothpaste on the brush during the years 1-6 can cause damage to the permanent teeth due to increased swallowing of the fluoride that is in the toothpaste. If this happens, then fluorosis can occur. Fluorosis is a disease of the enamel that occurs during the development of the permanent teeth and presents with white or brown spots on the enamel of the permanent teeth.

Bring your child in to see us every six months. Find out if your local water supply contains fluoride. If it doesn’t, we recommend you buy bottled water with fluoride in it. Promoting good oral hygiene when your child is young can prevent baby bottle tooth decay and promote good dental habits that will last a lifetime.

Your entire family deserves a healthy smile! Give Arlington Smile Center a call today at 703-237-7622 to schedule a visit for everyone.