Childhood cavities have reached epidemic proportions across the United States. Dental professionals have grappled with a way to stop this trend. Just this week, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) issued a first-ever evidence-based guideline to treat cavities in children. Fairfield Dental Associates read that officials now recommend silver diamine fluoride (SDF) to treat active cavities in pediatric and special needs patients. The AAPD hopes their recommendation will lead to wider adoption of the cavity treatment which is more effective in eradicating tooth decay. They say cavities are one of the most widespread chronic infectious diseases among children, affecting six out of 10 by the age of eight. Untreated cavities in baby teeth can easily spread. This causes decay that can include permanent teeth.
Silver diamine fluoride was approved by the FDA in 2014 to treat tooth sensitivity in adults. Dentists have since used it to treat cavities by painting it on teeth. AAPD president Dr. James Nickman calls SDF possibly the single greatest innovation in pediatric dental health in the last century. Dr. Yasmi Crystal at NYU College of Dentistry is also a big advocate.
"Silver diamine fluoride gives us another simple and safe option to treat cavities in children who can't cope with getting traditional fillings," said Dr. Yasmi Crystal, clinical associate professor of pediatric dentistry at NYU College of Dentistry. "Prevention is our number one priority, but if a child does have a cavity, we need to treat it before the child develops pain and infection. However, we also want to make sure they have a good experience at the dentist, so this is a good way to do both."
An AAPD press release says a systematic review of research showed no significant adverse effects of SDF other than it can turn cavities black. It is a viable alternative for treating cavities in young children and a better option than sedation or general anesthesia which can carry higher health risks.
The AAPD recommends every child over age one visit the dentist every six months for regular cleanings and check ups. That includes children with cavities that are treated with silver diamine fluoride. SDF needs to be monitored and re-applied twice a year for it to have a sustained effect.
Good Dental Care Must Start Early
What many parents don't know is cavities can become a serious problem in preschool children if they don't see the dentist. Dental experts now recommend that children have their first dental exam in the first year. Many parents wait until age two. By that time, a lot of damage can be done to baby teeth. The biggest source of dental cavities (caries) in little ones is bacteria that develops with a baby bottle or sippy cup. The American Academy for Pediatric Dentistry says a dental visit in the first year sets the stage for cavity prevention. Parents learn proper dental care for infants and toddlers and foods to avoid. (Sugar and starches are the biggest offenders.) Tooth development can be assessed at this early stage too. That is extremely important in a developing mouth.
Dr. Katherine Finkel with Fairfield Dental Associates is an expert in pediatric dental care. She says a dental exam in the first year is crucial. Primary (baby) teeth are just as important as permanent teeth, and require professional care and consistent daily hygiene. Dr. Finkel says teeth should be cleaned as soon as they erupt to avoid tooth decay. Parents should brush their children's teeth until they can brush them on their own, typically by age 8. The best times to brush are after breakfast and before bedtime.
All Children Need to See the Dentist
Dental visits for all children are important because:
- Dentists can detect dental decay and gum disease early, before there are problems.
- Dentists can see if adult teeth are erupting correctly and if there are any problems with misalignment that can affect your child's speech, chewing or appearance.
- Dental decay can be caught early, before it impacts your child's performance in school. It does. We wrote a blog on that too.
Preventive dental care is within reach of your child. Dr. Katherine Finkel at Fairfield Dental Associates is a highly skilled family dentist who can address the dental needs of all ages of children from baby on up to adolescent. She is very gentle with little ones and can educate you on proper oral care for your child for a lifetime of beautiful smiles.
Be sure to Contact Our Office with any questions you may have.