Visit the Dentist

Fluoride Is Important for Your Child’s Health

Many communities have fluoride added to the public water supply to provide residents with the proper amount of fluoride needed to ward off cavities. Talk to your dentist or dental hygienist to see if your child needs more fluoride. They can prescribe fluoride supplements to help protect your child’s teeth against decay.

Facts on fluoride:
• In water, it has been proven to reduce cavities by up to 50%
• Fluoride is a mineral that helps developing enamel become strong and resistant to decay
• Fluoride slows the growth of bacteria

Protect Your Baby’s Smile with a Dentist Visit by Age 1

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child should visit the dentist within six months of getting the first tooth – and no later than the first birthday. An early visit to the dentist with your child helps you:

• Get to know the dentist
• Learn how to avoid cavities that can cause your child pain and serious health problems
• Know whom to call if your child has a dental emergency
• Save money by learning healthy preventive habits – to reduce the chance that your child will need restorative care

During the first visit, the dentist will examine your child’s teeth for signs of decay, and will look for problems with the baby’s head, neck, jaws, skin and soft tissues in and around the mouth like the tongue, cheeks and lips. The dentist will also:

• Assess the child’s bite, facial growth and development
• Show you various tooth brushing and flossing techniques to help you care for your baby’s teeth properly
• Talk about diet and feeding/snacking practices that may put the child at risk for decay
• Discuss the use of topical fluoride
• Give guidance on how to prevent accidents as your baby grows

Your baby may be at risk for developing cavities if he or she:

• Has siblings with dental decay before the age of 5
• Uses a bottle with milk or sugary drinks at naptime or bedtime
• Consumes excessive sweets, juices or sticky foods
• Has an inadequate brushing and cleaning routine
• Has insufficient fluoride in water and lack of supplements
• Has chalky white spots on teeth

By visiting the dentist with your baby and following these tips, you can help keep your little one’s teeth healthy and free of decay:

• Clean your baby’s gums with a damp washcloth after eating and drinking
• Use a soft toothbrush and water to brush your baby’s teeth and gums – brush in soft, gentle circles two times a day
• Never add milk, punch, juice or soda to your baby’s sippy cup or bottle between meals and at bedtime – only give water
• Don’t share forks, spoons or food with your baby – it can spread germs that cause cavities

Learn more about children’s oral health.

Dental Sealants

Emerging trends in dentistry are making it possible for children to grow up without many of the dental woes their parents experienced. One of these emerging developments is using “pit and fissure sealants” on permanent molars, which have very irregular surfaces. In this practice, dentists seal the grooves with a protective coating in an effort to prevent decay before it occurs.

Permanent molars are the most likely to benefit from sealants. The first molars usually come into the mouth when a child is about 6 years old. Second molars appear at about age 12. It is best if the sealant is applied soon after the teeth have erupted, before decay has a chance to start development.

Teeth are cleaned and then washed with a gel that prepares the surface for the sealant and removes any unwanted material in the groove. The tooth is then dried and the sealant is brushed in place. After it fills the groove, a bright light causes the material to set almost instantly. This whole process can be done without anesthesia and results in a nearly invisible sealant.

While sealants cannot protect your child’s teeth from all decay, it will significantly reduce the possibility of a cavity in the treated groove. Sealants should be used as one part of a child’s total preventive dental regimen, along with fluoride treatments, twice-a-day brushing and flossing, wise food choices and regular dental care.