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Can Proper Dental Care In Infants Preserve Later Dental Health?

Can Cavity Prevention Begin Before Teeth Even Erupt?

A recent study confirmed that ensuring babies receive proper dental care, even before their first teeth erupt, can lead to better dental health later in life. The study showed the presence of bacteria associated with early childhood caries (ECC) in infant saliva. ECC is a virulent form of cavities and tooth decay, which are the most prevalent form of infectious disease in U.S. children, according to theCDC.

“By the time a child reaches kindergarten, 40 percent have dental cavities,” said Kelly Swanson, lead researcher. Swanson and his research partners studied infants before teeth erupted, as opposed to most studies focused on children already in preschool or kindergarten. At this point in time, many children already have cavities and they become more difficult to prevent.

So what can parents do to help their infants get on the path to good dental health, even at such a young age? Says Swanson, “The soft tissues in the mouth appear to serve as reservoirs for potential pathogens prior to tooth eruption. Minimizing snacks and drinks with fermentable sugars and wiping the gums of babies without teeth, as suggested by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, are important practices for new parents to follow to help prevent future cavities.”

Swanson also stated that educating parents-to-be on oral hygiene and dietary habits is the most important strategy for prevention of dental cavities.

And in related news…

Can Mints Fight Cavities?

Oral biologists have formulated a mint that fights cavities with an ingredient called Cavistat. The ingredients in Cavistat protect the teeth in two ways. First, the amino acid arginine metabolizes certain bacteria, which neutralizes the acid generated by sugars. This raises the pH to help prevent damage to teeth. Cavistat then introduces other chemical compounds that protect against the dissolving of the minerals of the teeth, leading to fewer carries, or cavities as they are commonly called.

For the past 40 years, experts have seen a decrease in the amount of tooth decay in children; however, tooth decay in kids has increased 28 percent over the past eight years. To find a solution to this problem, one microbiologist decided to try and use candy (in this case, mints) to help in the fight against cavities.

“Saliva is the great protector against cavities,” said Israel Kleinberg, D.D.S., Ph.D., an oral biologist at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, N.Y. and one of the pioneers in this type of dental research. Dr. Kleinberg discovered how saliva’s chemistry helps teeth neutralize the acidity created from eating food by balancing the pH levels in the mouth. From there, Cavistat — and ultimatelyBasicMints, the product’s brand name — was born.

Kids who ate two mints twice a day for one year had 68 percent fewer cavities in their molars than children who didn’t chew the mints. “The number of cavities, we think that ultimately is going to get to almost zero,” Dr. Kleinberg said.

Dr. Kotre, along with the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, recommends all children receive their first oral health exam by the age of one year. For more information on pediatric dental health, or to schedule an exam for your child, please give our Ann Arbor dental practice a call at 734-677-2156 to make an appointment.


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