Pedodontics (Children Dentistry)
We recommend that children begin routine dental exams starting around 3 years old. However, the academy of pediatric dentistry has suggested as early as 1 year old to screen for potential problems. If your child is experiencing any type of dental problem, you may need to bring them in sooner than 3 years old.
During a cleaning appointment for your child, you can expect the following:
- Our hygienists will clean your child’s teeth and apply a fluoride treatment.
- An exam will be done to evaluate for decay and assess tooth and arch development. Any appropriate referrals will be given at this time.
- If necessary, we may also need to take dental x-rays. Our digital x-rays are state of the art and reduce radiation exposure by 80% in comparison to traditional x-rays.
- We will also discuss your child’s diet and oral hygiene habits and demonstrate proper brushing and flossing techniques.
A dental sealant is a plastic material that is usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth where decay occurs most often. This plastic resin bonds into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surfaces of back teeth. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids.
Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth. But toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to extract food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas by “sealing out” plaque and food.
Sealants are easy to apply and it takes only a few minutes to seal each tooth. The teeth that will be sealed are cleaned and treated with a solution to help the sealant adhere to the tooth. The sealant is then ‘painted’ onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. Sometimes a special curing light is used to help the sealant harden.
As long as the sealant remains intact, the tooth surface will be protected from decay. Sealants hold up well under the force of normal chewing and usually last several years before a reapplication is needed.
The likelihood of developing pit and fissure decay begins early in life, so children and teenagers are obvious candidates. But adults can benefit from sealants as well.
Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in all water sources, even the oceans. Fluoride is effective in preventing and reversing the early signs of dental caries (tooth decay). It makes the tooth structure stronger, so teeth are more resistant to acid attacks. Acid is formed when the bacteria in plaque break down sugars and carbohydrates from the diet. Repeated acid attacks break down the tooth, which causes cavities. Fluoride also acts to repair, or remineralize, areas in which acid attacks have already begun. The remineralization effect of fluoride is important because it reverses the early decay process as well as creating a tooth surface that is more resistant to decay.
Fluoride is obtained in two forms: topical and systemic.
Topical fluorides strengthen teeth already present in the mouth making them more decay-resistant. Topical fluorides include toothpastes, mouth rinses and professionally applied fluoride therapies.
Systemic fluorides are those that are ingested into the body and become incorporated into forming tooth structures. Systemic fluorides can also give topical protection because fluoride is present in saliva, which continually bathes the teeth. Systemic fluorides include water fluoridation or dietary fluoride supplements in the form of tablets, drops or lozenges.
Professionally-applied fluorides are in the form of a gel, foam or rinse, and are applied by the dentist or dental hygienist during dental visits. These fluorides are more concentrated than the self-applied fluorides, and therefore are not needed as frequently.
We generally recommend professionally applied fluoride twice a year up to the age of 18. In decay prone individuals we may recommend it more frequently or beyond the age of 18.
If your child needs a filling, or any other type of procedure, our priority is a stress free environment. The key to a happy adult patient begins with a positive childhood dental experience. We are able to provide this for most of our pediatric patients but on occasion we will recommend a Pediatric Dentist (children dental specialist) to treat your child.