Indigenous Children Also Need Tooth Decay Fight

in Tooth

Tooth decay is caused by specific types of acid-producing bacteria that cause damage in the presence of fermentable carbohydrates such as sucrose, fructose, and glucose. The mineral content of teeth is sensitive to increases in acidity from the production of lactic acid. To be specific, a tooth (which is primarily mineral in content) is in a constant state of back-and-forth demineralization and remineralization between the tooth and surrounding saliva. For people with little saliva, there also exists remineralization gel, especially due to radiation therapies that may destroy the salivary glands. These patients are particularly susceptible to dental caries. When the pH at the surface of the tooth drops below 5.5, demineralization proceeds faster than remineralization.  

Most foods are in this acidic range and without remineralization, this results in the ensuing decay. Depending on the extent of tooth destruction, various treatments can be used to restore teeth to proper form, function, and aesthetics, but there is no known method to regenerate large amounts of tooth structure, though stem cell related research suggests one possibility. Instead, dental health organizations advocate preventive and prophylactic measures, such as regular oral hygiene and dietary modifications, to avoid dental caries.

Early childhood tooth decay is one of the most common infectious diseases found inindigenous children in the United States and Canada, resulting in additional adverse health effects.

In a new policy statement, "Early Childhood Caries in Indigenous Communities," in the June 2011 issue of Pediatrics (published online Monday, May 30), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) provide recommendations for the prevention of dental disease in young children and pregnant women, through collaboration with primary health care providers with dental instruments, policy makers, and public health practitioners in indigenous communities.   

AAP and CPS recommendations include:   

- Use well-child visits to educate parents and caregivers of infants and children on proper oral hygiene and diet.    

- Promote supervised use of fluoridated toothpaste in all indigenous and other high-risk children after the first tooth has erupted.    

- Provide pregnant indigenous women access to prenatal screening for dental health, and referral for dental care if needed.    

- Ensure that indigenous children have access to fluoride varnish programs and other oral health prevention and treatment services with dental equipment.

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Indigenous Children Also Need Tooth Decay Fight

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This article was published on 2011/09/01