LINKSNational Oral Health Plan Action plan to prevent oral disease
Surprising & cost-effective way to prevent tooth decay in children
Tooth decay can be easily avoided in children by stopping food getting into the deep crevices in the back teeth, which is where most tooth decay occurs.
What causes tooth decay ?
Tooth decay is the most common global disease affecting about half of children and almost all adults, increasing with age to involve 24.3 teeth in a lifetime. Over 80-90% of cavities for children start deep inside pit and fissure developmental faults in back teeth where food is trapped and brushing can’t reach. Dentists prevent these cavities by placing costly sealants over chewing surfaces to block food being trapped inside these faults, preventing acid demineralisation there. This indicates that any method that blocks food being trapped or left on teeth can prevent far more cavities than brushing.
Brushing alone won’t prevent tooth decay
Easy at home solution to prevent tooth decay in children
Parents of pre-schoolers need to clean their teeth till they have adequate skills to brush properly, preferably after eating so as not to leave food on their teeth. However, because brushing can’t reach inside pits and fissure developmental faults, parents need to give each child a strip of cheese easily cut into 12 strips from a cheese slice, to chew on each side of the mouth to fill the deep crevices not reached by brushing, and block more food being trapped just like sealants from the dentist.
However, like all foods, cheese is digested by oral flora and looses its sealant quality, but you can improve this by adding relatively insoluble salt particles less than 0.2mm in diameter, like calcium carbonate to the cheese slice.
We suggest you use Kraft individually wrapped cheese slices which we have tested as best. Before opening the wrapping, cut into 4 equal squares with a straight edge like a ruler, so as not to cut through the wrapping. Then cut each square into 3 strips so it is easy to give children a strip of cheese to chew on each side of the mouth before eating the food you give them. Half a strip is adequate for 2 year-olds, and older children may fold it in half for a more substantial chewing sensation.
You can improve this method, and help get calcium inside the pits and fissures for more tooth protection, by punching a few holes in the cheese strip with a hollow tube about 3mm in diameter like the plastic tube that covers most interdental brushes, then fill the holes with kids calcium-based toothpaste like Grants available from Chemists Warehouse.
Our research with glass models of a fissure in STEM learning projects at school or home, has shown that the calcium is forced deep inside the pit and fissure faults before the cheese giving a better sealant as the calcium particles bond together and even to the tooth.
Join the Tooth Fairy Project
The Tooth Fairy Project for primary school children involve simple experiments like dissolving two half eggshells in vinegar and seeing some white calcium particles deposit on the eggshell and the part of the shell in the vinegar softens and forms a depression when touched with your finger. Just place the other half of the eggshell on the depression and allow a day for remineralisation to bond the two halves of the shell together which is a bit like acid demineralisation and then remineralisation that happens in your mouth.
Connected primary schools ask parents to collect the baby molar teeth that fall out from their 9-12 year-old children for the Tooth Fairy project to analyse in the Australian synchrotron. The project hopes to find out why some individuals do not have faults in these teeth and how to best prevent the 80% of cavities that occur in others.
Please join the list to keep up to date with other tips and research like sugar free gummy confection with holes to chew before eating anywhere any time and sealant toothpaste and chewy toothpaste applicators that force fluoride toothpaste inside pits and fissures before brushing.