Pediatric Preventive Dentistry 101

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Preventive dentistry may seem a big term for some but in truth, it just means the practice of caring and keeping your teeth and gums healthy. Preventive dentistry covers all the oral habits and practices that we do to prevent tooth decay and other dental diseases in its early stages. It covers the simple practice of daily brushing to the professional semi-annual dental examination and cleaning by your child’s dentist. Through preventive dentistry, your children can avoid or lessen the effects of painful cavities, harmful gum diseases, and tooth enamel damage, among others.

Preventive dentistry is vital, especially for our kids. Children should have regular dental exams and cleanings. This is also a proactive move against harmful bacteria buildup and cavity while we secure our kid’s good dental health as they grow.

At home, your child’s twice-daily brushing and flossing is a simple preventive practice. If your child is still a baby, using a damp and clean washcloth to wipe the plaque off from your child’s teeth and gums is a good practice. As your child grows, you can shift to using a soft-bristle toothbrush with a pea-sized portion of non-fluoridated toothpaste. As much as position, do not allow your child to go to bed with a milk bottle unless it’s just water. Being mindful also of our kids’ snacks and sugar intake.

Dental Caries Assessment and Management

In the dental clinic, the dental exam itself is a form of a preventive measure. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), it is advised that your child visits his or her pediatric dentist every six (6) months, beginning at your child’s first birthday. In doing so, your child’s dentist can check and identify any possible dental problems in its earlier stage and make the necessary preventive treatment. Identifying tooth decay early is important. If left untreated, tooth decay can lead to cavities or what we call dental caries. Dental caries is the harmful tiny holes in your child’s teeth that can eventually cause pain, infection, and even tooth loss. Depending on its condition, your child’s dentists may require several visits to treat tooth decay. The dentist may also recommend the use of protective sealants or fluoride varnish treatments for your child.

Dental Sealants

A dental sealant is a preventive measure that your child’s dentist may recommend to protect your child’s teeth from tooth decay. A sealant is a transparent, plastic material that is applied to your child’s hard to clean back teeth and acts as a barrier to food, plaque, and acid. It is applied to the grooves or chewing surfaces of the premolars and molars to protect them. Cavities usually first attack the back teeth since they are not easily reached by a toothbrush, hence, more prone to tooth decay.

Fluoride Varnish Application

Another preventive measure that your pediatric dentist may recommend is the application of fluoride onto your child’s teeth. Fluoride can help make your child’s teeth more resistant to decay. Fluoride is a natural element that is essential to the teeth. However, it should be used appropriately since too little or too much fluoride can harm your child’s pearly whites. Fluoride varnish application is a safe procedure. Pediatric dentists usually recommend this to help prevent tooth decay in children. Fluoride application is done quickly and in a small amount. It hardens fast and can be brushed off the following day of application.

Pediatric preventive dentistry offers many benefits to all dental patients, more so to children since they are more prone to cavities. The goal of preventive dentistry is to maintain good dental health and keep your natural teeth for life, or at least as long as possible. Preventive dentistry aims to keep teeth and gums healthy – free from harmful cavities and tooth sensitivity and pain. Through preventive dentistry, early signs of cavities and gum disease can be treated.

Talk with your child’s dentist to see if any of these preventive treatments are needed and be beneficial to your child. These preventive dentistry activities were made to help ensure that your child’s teeth are strong, clean, and healthy now and in the future.

Sources:

How Preventive Dentistry Keeps Teeth Clean At Any Age, Colgate Https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/basics/dental-visits/how-preventive-dentistry-keeps-teeth-clean-at-any-age-0115

Preventative Dentistry, HealthLine https://www.healthline.com/health/preventative-dentistry

Caries Risk Assessment and Management https://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/caries-risk-assessment-and-management

Fluoride Varnish: What Parents Need to Know, HealthyChildren.org https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/oral-health/Pages/Fluoride-Varnish-What-Parents-Need-to-Know.aspx

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