Surprising & cost-effective way to prevent tooth decay in children
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 demoralisation 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
Measurement of these faults in molar teeth with 3D X-ray tomography at La Trobe University showed these pits were between 1 and 1.5mm deep and 0.105 to 0.250mm wide, which helped make glass models of a fissure that replicate how chewing pressure forces the first bite of a meal or snack to be trapped there, blocking more food access.
The glass models are easy to make from two equal squares of glass clipped together with a foldback paper clip as part of oral heath STEM learning school projects, which also show that brushing can't force fluoride toothpaste inside pit and fissure faults. This indicates why brushing alone can’t prevent decay without including sealant technology and remineralisation.
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 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 0.25mm 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 squares with a blunt knife 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 to get the calcium inside the pits and fissures for more protection for their teeth, 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 has shown, using the glass models of a fissure in STEM learning projects at school or home, show 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 bod the two halves if the shell together which is a bit like acid demineralisation after eating then remineralisation what 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.