PREVENTIVE PROCEDURES

Sealants

Sometimes brushing is not enough, especially when it comes to those hard-to-reach spots in your child’s mouth. It is difficult for a toothbrush to reach between the small cracks and grooves on teeth. If left alone, those tiny areas can develop tooth decay. Sealants give your child’s teeth extra protection against decay and help prevent cavities.

Dental sealants are plastic resins that bond and harden in the deep grooves on the tooth’s surface. When a tooth is sealed, the tiny grooves become smooth, and are less likely to harbor plaque. With sealants, brushing becomes easier and more effective against tooth decay.

Sealants are typically applied to children’s teeth after their permanent teeth have erupted as a preventive measure against tooth decay. It is more common to seal “permanent” teeth rather than “baby” teeth, but every patient has unique needs, and the dentist will recommend sealants on a case-by-case basis.

Sealants last from three to five years, although it is fairly common to see adults with sealants still intact from childhood. A dental sealant only provides protection when it is fully intact so if your child’s sealants come off, let the dentist know, and schedule an appointment for your child’s teeth to be re-sealed.

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Fluoride

Your child brushes twice a day, flosses regularly, and visits the dentist every six months. But did you know that rinsing with fluoride – a mineral that helps prevent cavities and tooth decay – also helps keep teeth healthy and strong?

Fluoride is effective in preventing cavities and tooth decay by coating teeth and preventing plaque from building up and hardening on the tooth’s surface.

Fluoride comes in two varieties, systemic and topical:

  • Systemic fluoride is ingested, usually through a public water supply. While teeth are forming under the gums, the fluoride strengthens tooth enamel, making it stronger and more resistant to cavities.
  • Fluoride can also be applied topically to help prevent caries (cavities) on teeth present in the mouth. It is delivered through toothpaste, mouthwash, and professional fluoride applications. Professional application of topical fluoride foam and varnishes is also a valuable tool in cavity prevention.
Receiving a fluoride treatment from your dentist :

A fluoride treatment in the dentist’s office takes just a few minutes. After the treatment, patients may be asked to not rinse, eat, or drink for at least 30 minutes in order to allow the teeth to absorb the fluoride. Depending on your child’s oral health or your doctor’s recommendation, your child may be required to have a fluoride treatment every three, six, or 12 months. Your doctor may also prescribe at-home fluoride products such as mouthwash, gels, or antibacterial rinses.

How to choose the right fluoride treatment :

When choosing an at-home fluoride product (such as toothpaste or mouthwash), always check for the American Dental Association’s (ADA) seal of acceptance. Products marked with the ADA seal of approval have been carefully examined and approved by the ADA based on safety and effectiveness.

Preventive Care

Preventive dental care is important throughout life, especially at a young age. By practicing good oral hygiene at home and scheduling regular checkups with the dentist, your child can help keep their smile bright and healthy for many years to come. Here are a few simple ways to prevent the build-up of plaque and cavities:

  • Make sure your child brushes their teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Use fluoride toothpaste to remove food particles and plaque from the tooth surfaces. Also be sure your child brushes the top surface of the tongue; this will remove any extra plaque-causing food particles and help keep their breath fresh!
  • Make sure your child cleans between teeth by flossing at least once a day. You can also use a mouthwash to help kill bacteria and freshen breath. Decay-causing bacteria can linger between teeth where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. Floss and mouthwash will help remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line.
  • Make sure your child eats a balanced diet, and try to avoid extra-sugary treats. Nutritious foods such as raw vegetables, plain yogurt, cheese, or fruit can help keep your child’s smile healthy.
  • Remember to schedule regular checkups with your child’s dentist every six months for a professional teeth cleaning.
  • Ask your dentist about dental sealants, a protective plastic coating that can be applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth where decay often starts.
  • If your child plays sports, be sure to ask your dentist about special mouthguards designed to protect your child’s smile.

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