Dental appointments for children are important not only to evaluate tooth and gum health but also to educate the young patient in how to prevent dental problems and maintain a healthy smile throughout his or her life.
During a check-up we will evaluate:
- How many teeth are and should be present
- Loose teeth
- Gum health
- Bite and oral habits
- Tongue and speech
- Fluoride use
- Diet and health history
- Home care and prevention
In our community, we are lucky. Our children have a health advantage already in our drinking water--fluoride. We boast a much lower cavity rate than areas in the country without fluoridation programs. Did you know that Grand Rapids, Michigan was the first community to put fluoride in the drinking water? Even in homes that have well water, topical fluorides are typically enough to prevent tooth decay.
We recommend fluoride toothpaste for all our patients. In most children, we recommend applying topical fluorides after dental treatment to boost protection. In some patients prone to decay, we might recommend at home topical fluoride rinses. We do not recommend daily ingestion of fluoride tablets or drops, because it can affect the appearance of adult teeth, as well as, cause problems with calcium balance in adults.
Sealants are made of materials, such as composite resin or Glass Ionomer, 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.
One study--among hundreds--shows 95% of the tested children with sealants were cavity-free in those surfaces after five years.
On top of that, sealants are quick, painless, and last for years. All children, when permanent teeth are beginning to erupt, are good candidates for sealants. This usually occurs at ages six and twelve.
In our office, we use a Glass Ionomer Sealant. These type of sealants have been shown to work better than resin based sealants. They also have the benefit of releasing fluoride into the tooth.
Most parents are unaware of how easy it is to have a successful first visit with a child. Most "bad experiences" are a thing of the past. With the use of topical anesthetics and occasionally Nitrous Oxide Gas( laughing gas), most children never feel or even notice an injection if it is necessary. It is important not to "pre-heat" a child. Do not mention anything referring to a "shot" or "needle", do not say it is going to hurt, and do not tell them how it might be a bad experience. Just stay positive and try not to inject your own possible fears of previous dental experiences onto them. Dentistry is a lot different than it was even twenty years ago. We don't mind if you want to be in the room when they are having any dental work done, but just keep in mind that your emotion and face is very easy to read for a child. It is best to stay at their feet and provide gentle support. Most children don't understand why Mom, Dad, or a Grandparent are overly concerned so they start to get nervous. We want to project a sense of peace and calm.
It is important to take care of cavities now, so that permanent teeth come in straight and strong. Cavities in children are typically caused by sugar too often. It is usually in the things that children drink. Even natural sugar can be harmful for teeth, things like juice and milk. If you change the way the beverages are consumed, it can dramatically reduce the cavity rate. Save sweet or acidic beverages for meal times, and drink water in between. Grazing all day long or having snacks too frequently can promote tooth decay. The ADA has a saying, "snack or sip all day-get decay!"