If this new study doesn’t motivate parents to get toddlers into the dentist, nothing will. New research by the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine has found that fungus is a big culprit in causing early childhood cavities. Researchers now say the fungus Candida albicans can cause severe tooth decay in early childhood. Apparently, this fungus is a type of yeast that works with an enzyme produced by the bacteria Streptococcus mutans (bad bacteria that causes cavities). This enzyme produces the biofilm on our teeth and is the reason we must brush daily and see the dentist for professional cleanings.
U-Penn researchers say the key to stopping early tooth decay is blocking the interaction between Candida albicans and S. mutans.
“Instead of just targeting bacteria to treat early childhood caries, we may also want to target the fungi,” said Hyun (Michel) Koo, senior author on the study and a professor in the Department of Orthodontics and Divisions of Pediatric Dentistry and Community Oral Health in a press release. “Our data provide hints that you might be able to target the enzyme or cell wall of the fungi to disrupt the plaque biofilm formation.”
Sugar must be present for the fungus to bind to S. mutans and form plaque biofilms on teeth. Early childhood tooth decay is more prevalent because so many children consume excess sugary beverages and foods. The S. mutans enzyme requires sugar to manufacture glue-like polymers called glucans which cling to teeth. The Candida fungus helps accelerate this process, making a sticky biofilm that lets the fungus bond to your child’s teeth and the bacteria S. mutans.
“This disease affects 23 percent of children in the United States and even more worldwide,” said Koo. “In addition to fluoride, we desperately need an agent that can target the disease-causing biofilms and in this case not only the bacterial component but also the Candida.”
According to a univeristy press release, Koo and his colleagues are working on developing novel therapeutic approaches for targeted interventions which can potentially be developed for clinical use.
Cavity Prevention Starts Early
As soon as the first tooth erupts your child should see the dentist. This gets the little one accustomed to going to dental care and prepares you, as a parent for teaching and supervising proper dental hygiene. A dentist like Dr. Katherine Finkel at Fairfield Dental Associates can assess the growth of your child’s teeth, alignment, and jaw. All of these factors are crucial to good dental health and the growth of your child.
- 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.
- Use a toothbrush with soft, round-ended bristles. Using an ADA-accepted toothpaste, apply a small, pea-sized amount, and be sure your child spits out the excess amount.
- After brushing, parents should floss children’s teeth to remove plaque between teeth where toothbrushes cannot reach.
- Make sure to schedule a visit with Fairfield Dental Associates
Please be sure to contact our office with any questions you may have.