1.What are baby teeth and why are they important?

“Baby teeth” are also known as “milk teeth” or “deciduous teeth”. Baby teeth erupt (come through the gums) and exfoliate (fall-out) during childhood. These teeth play an important role in the growth and development of the jaws, as well as in chewing, speech and appearance.

2.What is tooth decay?

Tooth decay is destruction of the tooth structure by the action of acids on tooth enamel which in turn is produced by bacteria. It is also known as dental caries or cavity. Children consume almost four times the sweets and three times the soft drinks as compared to adults. Both these dietary habits and oral hygiene of children are inadequate to protect teeth against decay.

3.How does tooth decay in milk teeth affect permanent teeth?

Tooth decay in baby teeth can cause pain and infection and is linked to decay in adult teeth. Infection of a baby tooth can cause harm to the adult tooth developing under the gum and loss of a baby tooth can cause problems with spacing for the adult teeth.

4.What are the benefits of fluoride toothpaste?

Fluoride toothpaste helps prevent cavities and plaque. Plaque is a film of bacteria that forms on teeth and gums every day. Plaque can cause gum disease and tooth decay. In addition to helping remove plaque, fluoride toothpaste provides an extra benefit in preventing tooth decay by strengthening the tooth enamel.

5.How does fluoride protect teeth?

Fluoride benefits both children and adults. Before teeth break through the gums, the fluoride taken in from foods, beverages and dietary supplements strengthens tooth enamel making it stronger and more resistant to cavities. This provides “systemic” benefit.

After the teeth erupt, fluoride helps rebuild (remineralize) weakened tooth enamel and reverses early signs of tooth decay. When you brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste or use other fluoride dental products, the fluoride is applied to the surface of your teeth. This provides “topical” benefit.

In addition, the fluoride you take in from foods and beverages continue to provide a topical benefit as it becomes part of your saliva, constantly bathing the teeth and helping rebuild weakened tooth enamel.

6.Should children use fluoride toothpaste?

Do not use fluoride toothpaste until the child is two years old unless advised to do so by a dentist or other health professional. For children aged two years and above, place a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste on the toothbrush at each brushing. Young children should be supervised while brushing and taught to spit out, rather than swallow the toothpaste.

7.How does Xylitol help protect teeth from cavities?

Every time you eat, the bacteria present in your mouth digests the sugars in the food to produce acids which eat away the enamel of your teeth. This “acid attack” causes tooth decay and cavities begin to form if prolonged.

Xylitol is a sweetener that occurs naturally. When you use Xylitol, these bacteria are unable to digest it and thereby do not produce acids as a by-product. Since no acid is formed, the pH of saliva does not fall. The bacteria also begin to reduce in number and become less sticky and do not cling to the surface of the teeth where they can cause damage.