Preventative Care for Children
How to Properly Brush & Floss
Your child’s first primary or “baby” teeth will begin to erupt between the ages of six and 12 months, and will continue to erupt until about age three. When teething, your child’s gums often feel tender and sore. When your child has finished teething, you can expect a total of 20 primary teeth. The primary teeth are shed at various times throughout childhood, usually prompted by the slow arrival of permanent teeth. Permanent teeth begin erupting at age six, and continue until age 21 with the arrival of wisdom teeth. Adults have 28 permanent teeth (or 32 including wisdom teeth).
To help alleviate your baby's discomfort and soothe their gums, we recommend:
Offer a chilled pacifier
Offer a plain or chilled teething ring
Offer a chilled pacifier
Rubbing the gums with firm pressure using a clean finger
Chill a wet washcloth for your baby to suck and chew on
Fluoride is one of the most effective agents in strengthening our teeth. Fluoride treatments combined with brushing twice a day, flossing regularly, eating balanced meals, and reducing sugar intake all help prevent tooth decay.
What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a mineral that is naturally present in almost all foods and water.
How Does Fluoride Work?
Systemic fluoride strengthens teeth that have erupted as well as those that have not. This is ideal for children who are still developing their teeth. We get this type of fluoride from the foods we eat and drink. Ask our team at your child’s next visit for fluoride recommendations based on age and diet.
Topical fluoride strengthens the teeth making them more resistant to decay. Topical fluoride comes from using fluoride-containing dental products such as toothpaste, mouth rinses, and gels. Fluoride varnish treatments can also be applied to your child’s teeth during their routine hygiene visits.
Why Are Fluoride Treatments Necessary?
Sometimes patients are not getting enough fluoride exposure to ensure their teeth are protected. Your dentist or dental hygienist may recommend the use of home and/or professional fluoride treatments for the following reasons:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Sensitive tooth and root surfaces
- High sugar and carbohydrate diet
- Low exposure to fluoride
- History of tooth decay
- Low saliva flow as a result of medication or a medical condition
Remember, good home oral hygiene is vital to maintaining your overall oral health. Visiting us at least twice a year will help keep your child’s mouth and teeth in optimal health and can reduce the need for more advanced treatment.
Dental sealants are one of the most effective ways we can prevent cavities from forming on our children’s teeth. Sealants protect the vulnerable nooks and crannies of back teeth, helping to lessen the build-up of food and plaque from causing severe tooth decay. Sealants reduce the risk of cavities on permanent molars by 80%, according to the American Dental Association.
What Are Dental Sealants?
A dental sealant is a thin coating applied to premolars and molars. This smooth seal is applied over the deep grooves in the chewing surface of the teeth. The sealant is made of plastic or a resin-based material and is nearly invisible to the naked eye. In fact, sealants are so thin your child likely won’t feel a difference either.
How Are Sealants Applied?
The process of applying dental sealants is quick and painless. First, we clean off the teeth where the sealant is being applied. After the teeth have been dried off, we put a solution on the teeth that will help the sealant bond to them. Our team will paint a thin layer of sealant over each tooth being treated, which will bond with the tooth enamel.
It’s important to get the sealant application dried quickly, especially with kids who tend to squirm in the chair. We use a curing light that speeds up the drying process so it generally takes less than a minute.
The sealant hardens and forms a protective barrier between teeth and bacteria. The entire dental sealants procedure takes just a few minutes, but sealants can last on our teeth for up to 10 years!
During your child’s regular dental checkup, we will check their sealants for chips or wear chips.
Dental Sealants for Children
Dental sealants are commonly applied to children’s teeth for these three main reasons:
- Fissures and pits are more likely to develop on children’s molars and premolars.
- Kids need extra protection against cavities until they can build a healthy tooth-brushing technique and routine.
- Sealants work best when they are applied to a tooth’s surface as soon as the tooth erupts.
- Dentists generally recommend sealants be first applied to teeth from ages 4 to 15 years. These are the years when kids are most likely to get cavities. However, in rare cases, they may recommend tooth sealants for baby teeth if a child is prone to cavities.
Dental Sealants and Dental Hygiene
It’s important to remember that while sealants do offer protection from cavities, they are not substitutes for brushing or flossing. Children with dental sealants should continue with their regular dental hygiene routine of brushing at least twice a day and flossing daily.
Children should also continue to take in fluoride through municipal drinking water or fluoride treatments provided in our office. While sealants do provide great protection, fluoride strengthens teeth and helps ward off cavities too, so it’s best to use both measures together.
Sealants are an excellent way to prevent cavities. The American Dental Association says adding a sealant to a tooth can reduce the occurrence of cavities by 86 percent in the first year! Over a four-year period, the risk of cavities declines by 58 percent. Over a full decade, says the ADA, the success rate grows to up to 90 percent. That’s a powerful argument for getting sealants.
Dental x-rays are an essential part of your child’s dental check-up. X-rays provide us with important information about the health of our teeth, mouth, and surrounding jawbone that isn’t visible with the naked eye. With x-rays, our team can detect problems early and avoid extensive treatment in the future.
Most dental diseases are progressive, and will continue to get worse over time if left untreated. Dental x-rays allow us to see between the teeth where plaque collects when we aren’t flossing enough. When plaque collects over time, our tooth enamel is weakened. This causes cavities. X-rays help us spot these cavities before they become large and treat them while still small.
Dental x-rays are also useful in finding teeth that haven’t yet erupted inside the mouth. When your child is “missing” a tooth at an age it would normally be present, x-rays help determine whether the tooth is simply behind schedule, unable to erupt or completely absent from the jaw. All teeth are important to help children speak and chew properly!
Are Dental X-Rays Safe?
We know the word radiation can sometimes cause fear, but it’s important to understand radiation is actually present all around us every day of our lives! Radiation occurs naturally in the air we breath, ground we walk on, and even in the foods we eat. All x-rays require a level of radiation, but with increased technology, the exposure to your child is minimal.