Teeth Cleaning (Prophylaxis)
At Willow Pass Dental Care Pediatric Department we understand that keeping children cavity-free can be simple. To achieve this goal, it is important to teach children how to brush and floss their teeth correctly from an early age. Parents must also be shown how to help their children, not just with the brushing, but also by providing healthy foods that are less likely to cause dental decay. In addition, the pediatric dentist recommends getting prophylactic teeth cleaning for children at least twice a year to make sure that food deposits and plaque buildup on the child’s teeth are removed efficiently. With a good cleaning in the office and healthy oral habits at home, your children will have a beautiful, healthy smile.
What Happens at the Cleaning Appointment?
At the dental prophylaxis appointment, the teeth are cleaned using an electric prophy brush and special toothpaste. For older children, an ultra sonic scaler is used to remove calculus. Sometimes hand instruments are used to get to hard to reach places. During the cleaning appointment, fluoride treatment can also be done to strengthen the enamel of the child’s teeth. If a fluoride varnish is used, children can eat right away, but are advised to stay away from hot foods or carbonated drinks, like soda. If a fluoride foam is used, children are asked not to eat or drink for at least thirty minutes. Although the chewing surfaces may feel sticky, it is important not to brush off the fluoride. The longer the fluoride is on the teeth, the more effective it will be in strengthening the teeth.
Bringing your child in for dental cleanings at least twice a year is a great preventive measure that can keep oral disease at bay. The dentist will be able to detect early signs of problems that could lead to more serious and more expensive treatments in the future.
Dental sealants are preventive treatments that are usually placed on permanent molars but can also be placed on some baby teeth that are in danger of getting cavities. Sealants are a great way of protecting hard to reach teeth that are not always brushed properly. Since these teeth are particularly involved in chewing, they are the ones that get exposed to food and bacteria on a constant basis.
Would My Child Benefit from Sealants?
Your child’s first set of permanent molars erupt around age 6. At this time it is very important to have your child come in for a check-up to see if they are ready for sealants. The second molars erupt around age 12 and these too need to be protected by dental sealants. Placing sealants as soon as these teeth erupt can help protect them from future cavities.
Since these molars are all the way in the back of the mouth, young children often neglect brushing them. These teeth are particularly prone to cavities because they come into contact with food the most and have nooks and crannies, where bacteria can hide. Often, it is impossible to thoroughly clean these surfaces with a regular tooth brush. Over time, the combination of food and bacteria can come to cause dental decay. Fortunately, sealants can help.
How Are Sealants Applied?
Sealants are a non-invasive procedure where a special coating of white colored resin is placed on the teeth, filling up the potential areas where cavities may form. The patient does not need to be numb when doing the filling and it is often completed after a cleaning. In order to prepare the tooth to accept the sealant, an acid etch material is placed for a minute then washed off of the tooth. The tooth is completely dried, and the resin material is painted on to the tooth. A special light is then placed on the tooth to check, which hardens the resin. The entire procedure is completed in a couple of minutes.
What Are The Benefits of Dental Sealants?
The application of dental sealants is painless, done in minutes, and can give the teeth up to 10 years of protection, which makes it an ideal procedure for preserving your child’s permanent teeth. For the most part, sealants are colorless or slightly tinted to match the patients natural color so that it is not easily seen when the patient smiles, talks, or laughs.
How Often Are Dental Sealants Applied?
Often, the chewing surfaces of molars are worn away, and the sealants have to be replaced. If the child brushes properly, sealants can last for longer. However, they are normally replaced once every three years.
What About Cavities?
The pediatric experts at Willow Pass Dental Care Pediatric Department will often tell patients that sealants, despite their benefits, do not necessarily prevent cavities. Improper oral hygiene, lack of brushing and flossing, as well as eating sugary foods will cause cavities to occur. While sealants may decrease the chances of getting cavities, the only way to completely prevent them is to make sure to brush.
One of the most common concerns parents have when bringing their kids to Willow Pass Dental Care Pediatric Department is if it is safe to use fluoride. Our pediatric dentist always recommends using fluoride toothpaste and getting fluoride treatments at every cleaning appointment.
What Does Fluoride Do?
Fluoride is a mineral that aids in tooth decay prevention by strengthening the enamel of the teeth so that it is not easily prone to cavities caused by the release of acidic byproducts from bacteria found in the mouth. With fluoride protection, dentists at the Willow Pass Dental Care have discovered that tooth decay can be reduced by up to 70%. From the childs very first tooth as infants, until their molars are completed in adolescence, fluoride is an integral part of decay prevention. For very young children, a small smear of fluoridated toothpaste can help keep their teeth strong. As the child grows older, a pea-sized amount of toothpaste with a fluoride containing mouthwash can really help prevent decay.
Other Sources of Fluoride
It may be a surprise to know that tap water is a great source of fluoride and may help keep children’s teeth strong. Drinking fluoridated water that contains trace amounts of fluoride can only be truly effective, however, if children are encouraged to drink at least a pint of water daily. Bottled water does not have fluoride, so it is important that parents use distilled tap water for their children. Fluoride is safe and has been added into water supplies for years now, but there are still some communities that do not benefit from fluoridated water. If it is not present in your city’s water supply, a prescription for fluoride drops or tablets may be obtained for your children from your dentist.
Aside from fluoridated tap or drinking water, fluoride can be found in other sources such as fluoride mouth rinses. These mouth rinses are recommended mainly in people who have an increased risk of getting cavities and is usually not given to children under the age of six.
Besides the fluoride that can be obtained at home, fluoride treatment can be done for every child after their cleaning. At Willow Pass Dental Care, we use topical fluoride or fluoride varnish. These may be applied directly onto the surface of the teeth in the form of foams, gels, or varnishes to help strengthen the enamel of the teeth and prevent tooth decay. Again, fluoride supplements chewable tablets, drops, or lozenges may be prescribed for children who do not live in a fluoridated community and who are at high risk for tooth decay, but this is based upon the dentist recommendations.
Is too Much Fluoride Harmful?
Children may receive more than enough fluoride if they are drinking fluoridated water. If parents choose to give them fluoride supplements in addition to the amount found in the water supply, there could be some esthetic consequences. Specifically, this could result in fluorosis or the appearance of white spots on the child’s teeth. Fluorosis could also happen if the child tends to swallow toothpaste when brushing his teeth. Therefore, it is important that you only use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste for children, twice a day, when brushing.
For more information on fluoride feel free to discuss the risks and benefits with the pediatric experts at Willow Pass Dental Care today.