Tag Archives: cavities

News; Cavities Rising among Children (Article)


For decades, the teeth of children in America have been getting stronger and more resistant to decay, until recently. Repairing dental decay in children was one of the mainstays of dentistry until the turn of the century. With the advent of fluoridated water and toothpaste, better dental care, and parents ensuring good dental hygiene, the age of cavities in children’s teeth was rapidly coming to a close. I remember just 20 years ago, hearing my pediatric dental colleagues complaining they had nothing to do without children getting cavities. They were either morphing into orthodontists or going out of business.


But here we go again. In the past ten years, dentists have begun to notice an uptick in the number of children with cavities, enough so, that the American Dental Association recently began recommending topical fluoride toothpaste be used in children under age three years of age. Prior to this new recommendation, fluoride toothpaste was forbidden for young children because of the fear that they would get too much fluoride in the enamel of their teeth, a condition known as fluorosis. Fluoride toothpastes have a lot of fluoride and if a young child eats the toothpaste, this can overload their teeth with this mineral, turning their teeth to a brown color. But experts have recently decided that a very small amount of fluoride toothpaste topically put on a young child’ s teeth is very unlikely to cause fluorosis and very likely to make dental decay more unlikely in children.


So the great fluoride debate continues, with the pendulum swinging back toward limited topical fluoride use as soon as a child’s teeth erupt.  But I have a better idea. I believe that if parents would eliminate almost all snacks, give their children water instead of any juices (even diluted) or sugary drinks, and stop giving them gummy and other sugar containing vitamins, dental decay would again, disappear. I believe if these things happened, we wouldn’t be having the need for this new ADA recommendation. But what do I know?


I welcome your comments on my blog, www.docsmo.com. If you have dental stories or other ideas how to improve our children’s dental health, fire away. Join the conversation. If you are a pediatric dentist, please give us your perspective. Until next time.

Tweaking Fluoride Recommendations Once Again (Article)

In an effort to prevent childhood and adult dental decay, dentists and public health officials recently changed their policy and began promoting the application of a small dab of fluoride toothpaste as soon as babies’ teeth erupt. Previously, experts from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists (The AAPD) had not recommended using any fluoride toothpaste in children under two years of age for fear of causing too much fluoride to accumulate in the enamel of their teeth, a condition called fluorosis. In the AAPD’s new analysis of current data, these experts decided that the benefit of a small amount of fluoride to a baby’s teeth is safe and outweighs the very small chance that an infant will develop fluorosis. Dental experts hope that this is a step toward curing the most common chronic childhood disease, tooth decay! Currently, tooth decay is five times more common than childhood asthma, four times more prevalent than childhood obesity, and twenty times more prevalent than childhood diabetes. Alarmingly, tooth decay in children has increased by four percent in the past ten years, a direct reversal of the cavity reduction achieved in the 1980s to 1990s.

The proper use of fluoride to retard dental decay has been elusive ever since the accidental discovery of its cavity fighting potential at the turn of the 20th century. Ironically, it was the observation that natural fluoride, found in certain springs in the western US, both stained teeth in children and at the same time made their teeth resistant to decay. Since this discovery, dentists have long advocated putting a very small amount of sodium fluoride in municipal water supplies and in toothpaste. Dental decay in children has been gradually disappearing ever since, until recently.

Dentists and public health officials have decided it’s once again time to tweak the dose of fluoride for the benefit of children. In order to make the most of fluoride’s benefits without increasing the risk of fluorosis, dentists recommend that parents use only a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste to brush their infant and toddler’s teeth twice a day. Brushing twice a day, offering your child plenty of water to drink between meals, avoiding snacks, and eliminating bottles by the end of their first year are crucial steps to avoid damaging decay. This type of proactive cavity control can prevent cavities and tooth decay that may cause other dental problems not only during childhood but later in life. So, with a simple dollop of fluoride toothpaste and a toothbrush, cavity prevention may be as easy as pie!

Written collaboratively by Keri Register and Paul Smolen M.D.

Smo Notes:

1. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/12/dental-group-advises-fluoride-toothpaste-before-age-2/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_php=true&_type=blogs&_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=2&sf22771120=1


3. https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/OralHealth/Topics/Fluoride/TheStoryofFluoridation.htm

Adopt a Healthy Dental Diet for your Children (Pedcast)


DocSmo, your pedcast host: you  know, those practical, portable mp3s that help educate parents on a vast variety of parenting topics from conception to confirmation.  Let me remind you that by listening to this pedcast, you are agreeing to my terms and conditions posted on my website.  I am probably not your child’s doctor, so for specific advice with regards to your child, please consult the wonderful person you call your pediatrician.


Today’s topic is a big one…the number one chronic disease in children: dental decay.  Healthy gums and teeth important for long term health. Many experts now think that heart and blood vessel disease that lead to heart attacks and strokes may be caused by poor dental hygiene.  Even Alzheimer’s has been implicated in the dirty mouth paradigm.


When I was child, I used to get sugarcane stalk to chew on all day; dental visits were terrible.  I have memories of dinner table discussions between my parents about what causes cavities.  4 kids, and expensive dental visits got them thinking hard!  They didn’t know that sugars in the mouth cause most decay.  They were busy giving me 5 cents to go to Fred’s Fruit Stand to get sugarcane to chew on all day!  Isn’t that ironic.


We know what causes dental decay now: Strep Mutans- bacteria that ferments sugars into acids  which melt the enamel off your teeth.  Diet has a lot to do with this process: frequent exposure of teeth to sugars is a recipe for decay.  The longer sugars are in your child’s mouth, the worse the decay.  Some children are lucky and get really good enamel, but not most.


Word is out about stopping the bottle by 1 and no bottles in the bed; now we have sippy cups that do the same thing. ”But I dilute the juice doctor”, I can hear the parents say. Remember, bacteria don’t need a lot to eat; even very dilute sugar can get them going and destroy your child’s dental enamel in a flash.


While we are on the topic of nutrition, here are some easy things you can do to reduce dental decay in your children.

  • Make sure your children brush their teeth at least twice per day when they are old enough.
  •  Use flouride toothpaste when they are old enough to spit it out and not eat it.
  • In between meals, drinks should only be water.  No dilute juice, soda, tea, or anything with sugar in it including milk.
  • Snacks should not be sugary or sticky; sugary and sticky is the worst (Ex: candy, soda, sugar gum, gummies including vitamins).  Instead, give them dental healthy snacks- popcorn, nuts, cut up veggies or fruit.
  • If your child is old enough, chewing sugar free gum after meals and snacks is great for your teeth…pulls out plaque and bacteria from creavices
  • At Halloween when they have all that candy, let them have fun for a set period of time and then remove the candy.  Their slow enjoyment could be very expensive when the dental visit time comes around.

Sounds like little things, but following these guidelines could really improve your child’s health and save you a small fortune in dental bills.


I hope you learned a little something from that discussion of dental decay.  Fast, practical and portable are always my goal.  If you like what you hear, invite your friends to listen.  And make sure you subscribe on iTunes or at my website, www.DocSmo.com by simply hitting the RSS feed button and signing up; a free pediatrics degree is here for the taking.  Please feel free to send comments to my blog.  I will try to answer comments and post interesting thoughts.


This is Dr. Paul Smolen broadcasting from beautiful studio 1E, that’s first child’s bedroom, east side of the house, hoping that you don’t delay protecting your child from dental decay!


Until next time

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1. oralhealth.pdf (application/pdf Object)
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