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Petersen Family Dentistry
123 West Francis Avenue, Suite 104
Spokane, WA 99205
Tooth Decay Prevention
Tooth decay is a progressive disease resulting in the interaction of bacteria that naturally occur on the teeth and sugars in the everyday diet. Sugar causes a reaction in the bacteria, causing it to produce acids that break down the mineral in teeth, forming a cavity. Dentists remove the decay and place a filling material, restoring the tooth to a healthy state. Severe decay can cause nerve damage that can be reversible (heals with time) or irreversible (requires a root canal). Avoiding unnecessary decay requires strict adherence to a dental hygiene regimen: brushing and flossing twice a day, regular dental checkups, diet control and fluoride treatment. Practicing good hygiene avoids unhealthy teeth and costly treatment.

The grooves and depressions on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth are difficult to keep clean and as a result they are more prone to decay. Recent studies indicate that 88 percent of total cavities in American school children occur in the grooves on the back molars.

In order to prevent decay from forming in the grooves of the molar teeth, protective sealants are applied to the chewing surfaces. The most benefit from sealants is gained if the molar teeth are sealed shortly after they erupt, which would be around age 6 for the first molars and around age 12 for the second molars. Sealants typically last for several years, though they should be evaluated at regular dental checkups.

Fluoride is a substance that helps teeth become stronger and resistant to decay. Drinking water treated with fluoride and brushing and flossing regularly ensures significantly fewer cavities. Since Spokane's water is not fluoridated, residents here must rely on fluoride supplements in order to obtain this helpful substance. Fluoride supplements are particularly important during the developmental stages of teeth. Toothpaste is also an important source of fluoride, so be sure to select one that contains fluoride and is approved by the American Dental Association. For people who have a history of extensive tooth decay, it may be beneficial to incorporate a prescription-strength fluoride toothpaste or rinse into their daily regimen.

Thumb Sucking
Sucking is a natural reflex that relaxes and comforts babies and toddlers. In most instances, children discontinue this habit before their permanent teeth erupt. Thumb sucking can cause improper growth of the mouth and misalignment of the teeth. If you notice prolonged and/or vigorous thumb sucking behavior in your child, talk to one of our doctors or hygienists.

Petersen Family Dentistry | | (509) 483-3332
123 West Francis Avenue, Suite 104, Spokane, WA 99205



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