We believe prevention is the most important key to overall oral health. Part of prevention is having check ups every six months. This enables us to catch any problems such as cavities, cracks in an existing filling (which can lead to secondary cavities), gum disease, or any unusual growths in the soft tissue of the mouth that must be attended to. At these check-ups the hygienist will clean your teeth, and may discuss how nutrition affects your dental health, and the dentist will check your teeth and gums.
Your dental team may also recommend sealants as part of your preventative care routine. Sealants are a clear plastic resin coating, like nail polish, that forms a physical barrier to oxygen. Sealants “starve” the bacteria that cause tooth decay. We apply sealants on the back teeth where pits and grooves typically form and are impossible to keep free from plaque and food particles.
We recommend having their first visit at 18 months of age. At this visit we will likely be able to check their teeth with just a toothbrush. Their first visits will prepare them for their first full cleaning with the hygienist.
Probably the most important thing you can do is talk positively about the dentist. Many people are apprehensive about going to the dentist, so it’s easy to reflect our own fears onto our children without realizing we are doing so. Their first dental procedures are often very simple. If you are brushing their teeth twice daily and talking positive about your dental experiences, you are already doing everything you need to do to prepare them! But if you still feel they may still be apprehensive about their first visit you can call the office to schedule a tour of the office. You and your child can do a walk-through of the treatment area and meet the team prior to their appointment.
We find children do best when their parents are actually not with them. It allows us to establish a relationship with them, and honestly we know as parents our own children often behave better when we’re not around! However, if your child still will not cooperate, we will then bring you into the room to assist. If they still are unable to calm, we will do what we can on this first visit. At subsequent visits we find children become more and more comfortable, and we are able to complete more and more treatment until they can complete a full hygiene appointment and dental exam. In some cases, however, we may need to refer you to a pediatric dentist.
X-rays are an important tool in aiding the dentist with diagnosing cavities that may be in between teeth or under an old filling. They also show bone loss around the teeth indicating gum disease. These problems may show up on x-rays before they can be seen clinically.
Highly effective in preventing decay on the biting surfaces of your chewing teeth, sealants are a simple procedure in which a tooth-colored acrylic "coating" is painted onto the surface of the tooth. This effectively "seals" the deep grooves acting as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids.
Sealants protect the depressions and grooves of your teeth from food particles and plaque that brushing and flossing can't reach. One study found that 95% of children tested that had sealants were cavity-free after five years.
Children should get sealants on their permanent molars as soon as the teeth come in – before decay attacks the teeth. The first permanent molars come in between 5 and 7 years old, while the second permanent molars arrive between 11 and 14 years old. If there are other teeth with deep pits and grooves, they should also be sealed to prevent decay. Refer to “Sealants” for more information.